Columbus Museum speaks out against racial injustice; displaying local civil rights artifacts

Updated: Jun. 3, 2020 at 9:45 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The Columbus Museum may still be closed to the public due to COVID-19, but museum staff is speaking out about racial injustice.

Marianne Richter is the Columbus Museum director and said with so many people advocating for fair and ethical treatment locally and nationally, there is no better time than the present to expand their civil rights collection to show understanding for those fighting for equality.

“I think it is incumbent on all of us to think about how we respond to that and how we help other people at this time,” Richter said.

The museum’s most recent acquisition, in an effort to increase minority representation, is three photographs taken in Columbus – two photos that showcase a group that peacefully protested for the desegregation of bus systems July 17, 1961, who, in another photo are shown being arrested.

The third photo illustrates a large funeral gathering five years earlier in 1956 for local civil rights activist, Dr. Thomas Brewer, who was murdered following a disagreement about a police officer using excessive force, according to Rebecca Bush, curator of history.

“His effect on the African American community here, especially the effect that his death had, was so significant for civil rights locally," Bush said. "So, as soon as I saw these, it was a really easy decision to make to purchase these.”

Richter said by showcasing a slice of Columbus’ civil rights history and the community’s participation in it, she hopes it will show a united front.

“You have to keep in mind it’s a different experience for each of us," Richter said. “For some people, the situation is much more stressful than for others. So, the more we can do to support each other the better.”

The Columbus Museum will be sharing a slice of their civil rights collection on social media every day this week that illustrates the ongoing battle for civil rights in the Chattahoochee Valley.

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