JONESBORO — Clayton County tourism officials are planning to someday open an African-American history museum.
It won’t be today or tomorrow or the day after that, though.
It is one of those long-term projects that will take some time and effort to build up into something that can take its place among the county’s other museums, said Clayton County Tourism Authority Board President Linda Summerlin.
“The tourism authority board is interested in developing an African-American history museum but it won’t happen until sometime in the future,” said Summerlin. “Right now, we have a large donation that we got from the Arnold estate that is sitting boxes, but we don’t know what’s in those boxes because we haven’t had a place to go through them.”
The movement to create an African-American museum got a boost Tuesday when the Clayton County Commission voted unanimously to lease a storefront located at 123 North Main St. in Jonesboro, to the tourism authority. The agreement states the tourism authority will lease the building for one year, but it can be renewed twice for two-year periods.
The tourism authority will pay $1 per year to lease the building, the agreement states.
The building is across the street from the old Jonesboro train depot, which houses the “Gone With The Wind”-themed Road to Tara Museum.
Summerlin said the building will not become the site of the museum. Rather, she said it will be used as office space where officials from the authority can sort through artifacts they already have in the possession.
“It lays a foundation to have a system to inventory and document things that are brought to us,” she said.
Nearly a decade ago, the authority received multiple boxes of items that belonged to longtime African-American educators and sisters, Eula and Lillian Arnold. Those items include family papers and photographs that were donated by the lawyer who served as the executor of the sisters’ estate, said Summerlin.
“Their heritage is quite great,” said Summerlin.
If the Arnold sisters seem familiar, it is because they are featured in one of the panels that depicts a school house in the mural located on the side of the Arts Clayton Gallery in Jonesboro.
“Neither of them had any children,” said Summerlin. “So after their other relatives got through picking out what they wanted, there were all these boxes of items left over that they were just going to throw out. The lawyer who was serving as the executor of the sisters estate, George Glaze, asked if he could keep those items because he was interested in history, and he eventually gave those items to us.”
Summerlin said anyone who has questions about the museum project can call Clayton County Convention and Visitors Bureau Interim-Executive Director Frenda Turner at (770)478-4800.