Friday, May 22, 2009

Congratulations to the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum

Governor Sonny Perdue signed House Bill 108 into law in April making Savannah’s Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum the official Georgia historical civil rights museum. The Savannah landmark is named in honor of the late Dr. Ralph Mark Gilbert, Father of Savannah’s modern day Civil Rights movement.

The museum chronicles the civil rights struggle of Georgia's oldest African American community. The three floors feature historic photographic and interactive exhibits, including an NAACP organizational exhibit and a fiber-optic map of eighty-seven significant civil rights sites and events.

A bronze bust of Gilbert highlights the exhibits on the museum's first floor, which also features a recreation of the Azalea Room of Levy's Department Store, where blacks could buy clothing but could not eat in the restaurant.

The mezzanine houses a theater, which is a facsimile of an African American church sanctuary, where Savannah activist W.W Law and other leaders reflect on Savannah's civil rights struggle. A visual montage of West Broad Street's people and its commerce gives visitors a glimpse of its history. The second floor features lecture halls, classrooms, and a computer room. It also has a video/reading room and an African American book collection for children.

The vision of Law and Gilbert came to fruition in the museum. Thousands of visitors from around the world tour the museum, where people of all races can share a glimpse of the struggle for African American civil rights.

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