Thursday, April 2, 2009
By SUE WATSON
The Ida B. Wells Museum and Cultural Center of African American History has been added to the Holly Springs Pilgrimage tour this year for the first time.
The museum, located at 220 N. Randolph Street, will be open during the April 17-19 tour, sponsored by the Holly Springs Garden Club.
Curator Leona Harris reviewed some of the collections at the museum, which include works by contemporary artisans Gloria Gipson Suggs, Sue Diekmann, Keiffer DeBerry, Randy Hayes and Dr. Margaret Burroughs and Susan Farese.
The Ida B. Wells Museum is committed to promoting Southern culture and history and more, Harris said.
The museum also exhibits original works of artists from the continent of Africa.
Local collections includes the Ida B. Wells room, a Marshall County Veterans’ wall, a wall containing memorabilia of the late Mayor Eddie Lee Smith Jr. and the late sheriff Osborne Bell and a collection of original works of Gipson Suggs.
Suggs, a native and resident of Marshall County and the daughter of the late S.P. and Verse Gipson, attended elementary school at Slayden, graduated from St. Mary's High School in Holly Springs and took science degrees from Rust College. She graduated from the University of Memphis with a master in curriculum development and instruction and taught in public and private schools for 28 years.
After several accidents, Suggs turned her creative efforts to performing, writing and drawing.
“The Reflection Series,” in crayons, draws upon memories of reunions, gatherings and subjects she heard about or saw. Crayon is the primary medium and primitive impressionism is the style Suggs uses in her folk art drawings.
Ida B. Wells was born just after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in the 1860s. The museum that bears her name is located in a house once was owned by the father of Holly Springs, William Randolph. Wells’ family worked for the Randolphs and her mother was cook for the Randolph family. Wells is thought to have been born on the premises of the property, Harris said.
In 1857 the house burned and Spires Bolling rebuilt the house with the help of Ida's father Jim Wells, a skilled craftsman and apprentice carpenter. The house is Greek Revival, constructed in 1858, and one of several other homes on the tour of homes in Holly Springs built by Bolling.
The museum property is owned by the City of Holly Springs and is now home to the museum dedicated to holding the memorabilia and art of African Americans as well as works of other local and foreign artists.
Ida B. Wells was a teacher, activist for civil and women’s rights to vote, a friend of Susan B. Anthony and Jane Adams, and a founder of the NAACP. She also was a social worker and journalist.
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