Museum Director Honored With Unity Award

The man credited with starting Columbus' Black History Museum received top honors Monday during the 19th annual Black History Breakfast.

Hundreds gathered at the Trade Center to see Johnny Warner receive this year's Leadership Legacy Award.

At five foot eight, most people would consider Warner small in stature. But regardless of his size, Warner has a big mission--- to preserve African American history.

"It was just something that hit me. Just focus on your people, the black race," Warner tells News Leader 9.

So he set out to put his dream in motion by opening the Columbus Black History Museum and Archives in 2004.

As you enter the museum you see replicas of the U.S. Constitution and Amendments, pictures of lynchings in Columbus in the late 1800's, along with pictures of Blind Tom and Marilyn McCoo who grew up in a vast assortment of books.

A family man has made it his life's calling to share this history with others.  "Our mission is to educate and preserve the black history but the important thing is that people take the history and to use it as a tool for making sound decisions."

History has always been a passion of Warner...through his travels in the United States Army, he noticed the poverty and oppression of his people.

In 1996 he retired as a sergeant first class. He worked for a local company until he decided to open the museum with his wife, Beatrice, by his side.

"I get the pleasure of serving God. That is my ultimate say dream, sacrifice, commitment," says Warner.

A commitment to the past which gives him hope for the future.