Region 8 Museum Celebrates Black History Month

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) -- Black History Month was established in 1976 as an expansion of Negro History Week, which was first started fifty years earlier in 1926.  Originally a date marked to honor the birth date of Frederick Douglass, the month long celebration now reflects on the remembrance of important people and events in the history of African-American culture.

A look around the Eddie Mae Herron center in Pocahontas will take you back in time.  What was once the Pocahontas Colored School, it's now a museum dedicated to the rich African American culture in Randolph County.

"We don't want to forget," said director Pat Johnson, "We don't want to forget the struggles that we had and we want to educate the younger people now in the community and around."

The Eddie Mae Herron Center has been in Pocahontas for almost half a century and serves as the hub for religious activity for the African American community, which makes up about 2% of Randolph County's total population.

A freedom quilt that maps out routes slaves took to get to the north is just part of the exhibits used to teach African American history here.  But Johnson believes passing down an oral history is one of the most important lessons today's youth can learn.

"We have oral history program where we get the children to come in and we have the older people come in and talk to them about the times that they were young people and then the children ask them questions," said Johnson.

The Center and Museum is open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and hopes to have the biggest impact on Region 8's children.

"It's kind of like you're not as interested when you are young. And that's what we are trying to change, we're trying to educate the younger people and let them know that everything hasn't always been as good as they have it now," said Johnson.

The Eddie Mae Herron Center and Museum is hosting a gospel singing fundraiser Saturday night at 6:00.  It will be held at the Music Theatre in Pocahontas and will feature several local bands and choirs.  Admission is $5 for adults and free for children 10 and under.