Local museum is immortalizing black wealth

The Riley House Museum is a cultural organization that is located in downtown Tallahassee on the corner of Meridian and Jefferson Street. The Riley House Museum is a depiction of the thriving black neighborhood that once existed on the eastside of downtown Tallahassee and the last indication of the African-American middle class that transpired in the concluding part of the nineteenth century.

“African-American history is extremely important. Every one attending FAMU should go get educated about African-American’s contributions to the state of Florida and the United States of America,’ said Willie Barnes V, a third year business student from Sugar Land, TX.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, an African-American community called Smokey Hollow was established in the west side of Myers Park Drive. In 1904, only 5 five houses on Jefferson Street were owned by African-Americans; John Riley owned one of those houses.

“The Riley House is the only home in Florida to be own be a freed slave. It is important that this historical treasure is preserved for the future generations to come,’ said Althemese Barnes, the Riley House Museum Director.

Thanks to the efforts by local “preservationalists” in1978, the Riley House became the second house owned by an African-American that was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1995, a group of Tallahassee citizens established a museum at the Riley House dedicated to African-American history and culture.

“I visited the Riley House Museum my freshmen year. I learned a lot of information about African-American culture, especially in Florida,” said Myra Tucker, a third year allied health student from Atlanta.

The Riley House Museum has a multitude of components and exhibits that are offered to customers. The museum’s program components sole purpose is to help develop an awareness for the educational and social contributions of African-Americans to Florida’s history.

The Oral History Program acts as an entity that conducts oral history interviews, at no charge, for families to preserve the history of that particular family; photos can be scanned onto the taped interviews.

Currently, the Riley House Museum exhibits consist of The Riley Archival Center at TCC and “Struggles and Triumph”.

The Riley Archival Center at Tallahassee Community College is a collection of black abolitionist papers. The archive maintains 14,000 documents including editorials, sermons, speeches, letters and essays, written by African-Americans involved in the movement to end slavery in the United States.

“Struggles and Triumph” is an art exhibit that contains artist depiction of African-Americans.

On October 4, 2005, the Riley House Museum is having a benefit concert for the New Orleans Musician Clinic entitled “Bring It On Home”. The event will take place from 7p.m. to 10p.m. at The Moon and admission is $20.00.

Contact Alexander Harris III at thefamuanbusiness@yahoo.com