TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The Texas African American Museum in Tyler celebrated Martin Luther King Junior Day with the grand opening of its new location.
The museum is now in a vacant fire station the city of Tyler donated last fall.
Dr. Orenthia Mason was the keynote speaker at today’s event. She said she believes we’ve come a long way since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, but there is still work to be done.
“Actually, I believe as a people and as a community, we’ve regressed because there’s so much racism and animosity, and the spirit of divisiveness is prevailing over the United States of America,” Mason said. “My prayer is that we will all learn how to walk together, work together, and love one another, and sit down at the welcome table and talk to each other.”
Gloria Washington, the museum’s executive director, said they are overjoyed to be in the new space, which is 5,070 square feet. Before they only had 800 square feet.
“The museum is here to preserve our history and to educate our public about our African American heritage because if you don’t continue to delve off into it, to research, do your studies, history has a way of repeating itself, and it has a way of losing its importance,” Washington said.
There are still renovations to be done, artifacts to gather, and people to get involved. The Democratic Club of Smith County presented the museum with a gift, acknowledging the importance of the museum by educating others.
“This Democratic Club of Smith County is honored to visit the Texas African American Museum today to show our appreciation and to present the museum with a donation of $500,” said Jamie Mims.
Those in attendance honored King through words and music.
“It is also important that we come together. You saw today different races, ethnicities, creeds, color, nationalities, and we have to learn how to do this more often,” Mason said. “Come together instead of being separate and in our own little individual groups.”
Admission to the museum is free, and they are open Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.