Columbus Black History Museum remains open despite financial hardship

Columbus Black History Museum remains open despite financial hardship

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A major turnaround in donations over the last 24 hours will allow the doors of the Columbus Black History Museum to remain open.  

"The impact that this has had with WTVM covering this I can't put it into words. If it were not for the coverage we would not have received any of the funds that we have taken in so far," says David Gillarm, Executive Director of the Columbus Black museum.

The influx in donations will allow their facility to stay afloat through July.

Gillarm says the Museum's monthly expenses are around $1,000 a month at its current location, but he's unsure about the organization's longevity.

"Johnnie Warner, who was the founder, he would supplement some of his own money to make up for when we weren't receiving donations or memberships," says Gillarm.

Artifacts like a Fort Benning annual that tributes the Buffalo Soldiers, including many that were African American, and a black city directory from 1926, are only a few of the neat pieces found inside the Columbus Black History Museum.

"The Columbus Black History Museum is a pillar because as African Americans we didn't always keep good records but the records we did keep they have been donated to the Museum," says Tonza Thomas, President of the NAACP.

Founded in 2004 without city, state or federal funding, the Columbus Black History Museum has survived solely on donations and memberships.

Individual memberships start at $35, and business memberships at $150. All donations are tax deductible.

However, Gillarm says the problem is a lack of support. Recent fundraising efforts to prevent the museum from closing did not have good attendance.
"I am just shocked because I saw the efforts of Johnnie Warner and some of the others who were supportive of the museum so for a city this size that Columbus Black History Museum should be a given," says Carol Gertjegerdes, Advertising Manager at Columbus Times.

According to Gilliarm, the museum currently has 37 individual members on roll and five business memberships.
"It was disheartening when I found out the museum doors may not remain open. We have a city council budget and within that budget I am sure they cover the Naval Museum and other museums; however this museum is also critical to the extension of the African American community," says Thomas.

The next fundraising effort will be held July 1 when the museum will host a reenactment of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s visit to Columbus.

For more details visit their official Facebook page or their page on the Explore Georgia website.

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