The Thomaston-Upson African American Museum, located at 504 Joe White Street, was formally dedicated Saturday morning. Families of the 19 inductees into the museum were present, along with others, to tour the museum which, in addition to housing historical artifacts, now displays the photos of the inductees.
Board of Directors member Paul Harper welcomed everyone to the dedication, with fellow Board member Rev. James C. McGill giving the prayer. Mrs. Charmaine Walker sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” then Board Chairman, Rev. Patrick Allen, thanked everyone for coming. He thanked the inductees and their families, giving special thanks to Mrs. Francis Walker and her family, whose house is now home to the museum.
Following the dedication, tours were taken of the museum, with many of inductees’ families taking part. The 19 inductees are: Paul Sutton, Joe White, Andrew S. Johnson, Willis Williams, George W. Drake, Calvin Cunningham, Edna Kendall, Elijah L. Green, J. E. Bentley, Jr., Mary Francis Stinson, Hill C. Cunningham, Martha E. Bentley, Marion Underwood, Robert Walls, Louis Conn, Walter C. Collins, James C. Banks, Monroe G. Worthy, and Francis Walker.
Shirley Henderson and her daughter, D’Edna Henderson, came from Forsyth for the dedication. Shirley Henderson said her mother, inductee Edna Kendall, was a midwife who delivered more than 1,300 babies, drove a school bus, and owned her own business.
Board member Kay King showed her sister-in-law, Geneva Sutton, and her family, Esther Sutton Roberson, Janice Searcy and Rev. Edward Searcy, the photo of King’s brother and Geneva Sutton’s husband, Paul Sutton, who was the first black deputy Sheriff and Warden in Upson County.
The development of the museum has also attracted interest from Spalding County. Rev. Freddie Phillips, a member of the Griffin Historical Custodians, was present to talk with board members about the museum. Phillips said his group is looking into what has been done in Thomaston to get ideas for a similar museum or archives in Griffin.
Anyone wishing to donate artifacts to the museum, or who would like to nominate a relative or friend to be inducted into the museum, is asked to get in touch with one of the Board of Directors: Rev. Patrick Allen, Paul Harper, Joyce Kendall, Kay King, Rev. James C. McGill, or Barbara Worthy.