Foundation to establish black history museum in Huntington

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Memphis Tennessee Garrison House
As it may appear, the home of Memphis Tennessee Garrison House as a museum. Painting by Debbie Richardson

The Huntington home of one of West Virginia’s pioneer black educators and civil-rights activists is being developed as a museum, according to officials at the Carter G. Woodson Memorial Foundation.

The former home of Memphis Tennessee Garrison at 1702 10th Avenue has been stablized since being purchased in 2007, and foundation members are now seeking grant funding for preservation and development, according to foundation secretary Karen Nance.

Garrison launched her career as a teacher in Gary, West Virginia, in McDowell County, in 1908 and became an independent mediator for racial and labor issues and worked to provide the black community with recreational opportunities and cultural experiences.

According to historians Linda Ann Ewen and Ancella R. Bickley, who chronicled her career,
Garrison became the first female president of the state teacher’s association and vice-president of the American Teachers’ Association. She was instrumental in establishing the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in West Virginia

Well before Brown v. Board of Education she supported school desegregation and worked to enforce integration after the Supreme Court case. In 1952, she was part of instituting a black Girl Scout group in Huntington, while serving as a substitute teacher and other civic roles.

The Woodson foundation has long sought to establish a museum for black and civil-rights history, Nance says, and is named for Carter Woodson, widely known as the Father of Black History, who spent his early life in West Virginia.

A bronze statue of Woodson overlooks Huntington’s Hal Greer Boulevard on the campus of Marshall University, which also maintains a scholarship endowment and a bibliographic center dedicated to Woodson.

For more information on the Garrison initiative or to provide support for the foundation, write the P.O. Box 5483, Huntington, WV 25703, or visit the Carter G. Woodson Memorial Foundation page on Facebook.