Leaders of the planned African American Museum have turned to the next steps needed to make it a reality after the recent Huntington Town Board approval of a site.
Irene Moore, chair of the African American Historic Designation Council, and attorney Barry Lites are among several Huntington residents who are focused on fundraising as well as developing educational components for the museum.
They are eager to tell the long history of African Americans in Huntington, which dates to the earliest days after the founding of the town.
Volunteers will work on development, design and community outreach aspects to establish the museum.
“We always felt that Huntington needed an African American museum,” Moore said. “We felt we needed this so we could house the history and artifacts, and share African American history with others.
“African American history is a part of American history,” she said.
“It’s a journey that I think is going to resonate with all, and that’s why we’re inviting all to get together to work with us,” Lites said.
She said that she hopes to have significant educational and technological aspects to tell individual and community stories.
The museum will be located near the home of Peter Crippen, and one of the goals of the group is to take elemenets from the Creek Road house and incorporate them into the museum. It will be built on the site of the former Naval Reserve building at the intersection of Mill Dam Road and New York Avenue.
The stories include but go beyond well-known African Americans, such as musician John Coltrane, Samuel Balton, the “pickle king” who was a successful farmer and businessman in Greenlawn, Crippen, an early 19th Century leader of the African American community, and educator Booker T. Washington.
“I think that the the great thing about learning history is that it forces you to recognize common ground because the lives that we’re going to highlight, those experiences are universal, right? Struggle, hope, failure, success. It will be a good lens of American history, of Huntington history,” Lites said.
He said they expect to start groundbreaking next year.