Riley House rocks on to raise funds

The John G. Riley Center and Museum of African-American History and Culture presents its 6th annual Culture to Culture celebration. The event features an array of cultural cuisine, arts and crafts on Dec. 8 at the Riley House Museum on East Jefferson St.

The Tallahassee Chapter of The Links, Inc. and the African Sister Cities Inc. will co-sponsor the Riley House Rock, where 27 organizations will participate in a “rocking chair marathon” to benefit the Riley House 111th Anniversary Endowment Campaign.

Participants are asked to obtain as many pledges as possible from individuals of the community for each hour their chair continues to rock. The minimum pledge is $1 per hour. Participants are scheduled to start rocking at 7 a.m. and continue non-stop until the competition ends at 5 p.m.

The museum’s goal is to raise the remaining $67,000 that is needed to seek a $240,000 matching grant from the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs.

The interest from this endowment will support educational programs of the Riley Museum and help with other operational expenses.

The money will help insure that the Riley House and programs of the museum are maintained and continued for generations to come.

“This event is taking place to help usher in money for the holiday season,” said Althemise Barnes, Education Director and volunteer for the Riley House. “We had about 800 people here last year, and we raised about $10,000 too. Hopefully, we can equal that amount of money or exceed it this year.

“This annual campaign is used to support our education outreach programs. Some of our programs include oral history interviews, history presentations at schools, and research to help preserve African history.”

Other outreach activities include a youth art and essay contest for Emancipation Day in May, a Black History Month Celebration, tour and presentations programs, and traveling exhibits.

The historic Riley House stands as evidence of the thriving middle-class African American community that existed in downtown Tallahassee.

The Riley House was restored in 1978, and is now operating as a nonprofit center to preserve the heritage of African Americans in Leon County and the state of Florida.

“It would be nice to have a closer relationship with FAMU’s history department,” Barnes said. “If we come under their umbrella, there would be a lot of opportunities for both of us. It would also bring the community closer to higher education.”

Barnes would also like to see FAMU students come out and participate in the marathon.

I would love for FAMU students to come out and participate,” she said. “Even though, I know it is hard getting people to come out at 7 a.m.”

Sponsors of the fundraiser include Al’s Tents, Somerset Furniture, Simply Elegant Catering, COT Parks and Recreation, COT Police Department; Publix Supermarkets, Tallahassee Democrat, COT Communications and 96.1 FM.

Participants include Celebrity, Rockers, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma Gamma Rho and Zeta Phi Beta sororities, Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi and Omega Psi Phi fraternities, Tallahassee Barristers, Callen Neighborhood Association; Capital City Garden Club, Coalition of 100 Black Women, The Drifters, Ear to the Ground Dramatists, FAMU Allied Institute of Health, FAMU NAACP, FAMU Student Affairs; Florida Heritage Foundation, Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Leadership Tallahassee Class XVIIII, Leon County Sheriff’s Dept., Riley House, Tallahassee Democratic Women, Tallahassee Trust, Top Ladies of Distinction Unitarian Universalist Church of Tallahassee and William Gunn Society.

For more information, contact the Riley House at (850) 681-7881. Hours of operation: M, W, F, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Admission: $2 Adults, $1 Children under 12 years. No charge for Leon County school students.