Wonderful history, wonderful collaboration

Published 4:42 pm Monday, April 22, 2024

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One of my greatest joys is sharing local history. There is an abundance of history in Washington for everyone. Every group of people here has an amazing history we can learn from, and that learning can help us understand each other. We also learn we are stakeholders in this town equally. I am blessed to share a vibrant portion of Washington’s history.

In my quest to share the history that is a part of my growing up in Washington and my family’s legacies of history here, I seek more ways to share this history. I am thankful I have been given so many wonderful opportunities to do this with the help of so many wonderful people.

The Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum which I co-founded in 2016 will be eight years old in June. Thousands of people in this country and many countries abroad have visited the museum. The museum is a store house of local history and as a surprise to many, a vehicle to share the good news of Jesus’s mandate to love one another.

My historical research, with the assistance of the Phoenix Historical Society in Tarboro NC and Underground Railroad researcher Wanda Hunt McClean, has helped to designate a three-mile portion of the Pamlico Tar River a National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site which is now recognized all over the world.

My research with Terry Rollins of the Brown Library, and the Historic Port of Washington has also helped to bring several Pomeroy Foundation historic markers that decorate our historic landscape. One marker, from the North Carolina Highway Historic Commission, which is in front of the museum, is the only one of 38 markers in Beaufort County to honor an African American. This marker is also in collaboration with the Phoenix Historical Society.

Now I am very grateful to be a part of bringing the Green Book Exhibit Project and the related events for the coming weekend to Washington. I owe a debt of gratitude to The North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, the Beaufort County Arts Council’s Director Kelly Shanafelt and the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum for this amazing opportunity.
There will be the Green Book Exhibit hosted by the Turnage Theater from April 23 to May 27. Also, at the Turnage, there will be movies and a meet and greet with national playwright and author Calvin Alexander Ramsey.

There is a Green Book walking tour which I will host along Gladden Street from the Underground Railroad Museum to Spring Garden Baptist Church. There will be a special talk with Mr. Ramsey at the conclusion of the walking tour at the church. At the Turnage Theater on Sunday afternoon for school students but is a must see for everyone.

I hope you will attend some of the events and learn more about Washington’s experience during part of the time of the Green Book’s existence 1936-1966. And you’ll learn about some of the people in Washington who had locations in the Green Book. All of the events are free. For more info call the Beaufort County Arts Council 252-946-2504 or email Kelly at Kelly@artsofthepamlico.org.

Leesa Jones is a Washington native and the co-curator of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.