GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — After closing when COVID cases in Gallia County began to dramatically rise in the fall, the John Gee Black Historical Center has reopened to the public.
The John Gee Black Historical Center was founded in 1998, and in 2020 underwent significant changes and improvements, like the expansion of its board and repairs. Because many of its volunteers are in categories at risk to more severe cases of COVID-19, the center closed in November, when cases rose. Now that cases are not rising as significantly in Gallia County, the Center reopened on January 8.
“With things looking better with COVID, we’re hopeful we’ll be able to do more educational programs and presentations this year, and if not we’re trying to secure some grant money to do virtual things,” Robin Payne, chairperson of the John Gee Black Historical Center’s board, said.
Payne told the Tribune that the Center has received a grant with which she hopes to secure internet for the Center, and received a donation from Field of Hope that went toward changes in the Center’s interior, including the purchase of new shades for windows. (Museum employees previously reported the special shades help in protecting the Center’s artifacts.)
The John Gee Black Historical Center usually does presentations for schools and Black history tours. The Center also usually does presentations for the University of Rio Grande’s nursing classes on what historians refer to as African American Slave Medicine, Payne added. Because of COVID, such presentations haven’t been possible. With internet, Payne hopes that the Center can produce more virtual content.
Payne noted that many of the Center’s presentations are geared toward school-age children but said that people of all ages can learn from its programs.
“A lot of adults don’t know about the John Gee Black Historical Center, the (Pine Street) Colored Cemetery, everything that’s the history part of African Americans in Gallia County,” she said.
Membership forms can be found on the Center’s website or can be mailed to those interested. The Center can also receive donations through AmazonSmile, an extension on Amazon that donates a percentage of purchases to charitable organizations of consumers’ choosing.
The John Gee Black Historical Center is located at 48 Pine Street. Its hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Friday and Saturday, and tours can be scheduled at other times as well.
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Sharla Moody is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing from Gallipolis, Ohio. She is a graduate of River Valley High School and currently attends Yale University.