Jack Hadley Black History Museum

One man's passion for educating and preserving Black history
Posted at 4:13 PM, Oct 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-27 16:13:41-04

THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WTXL) — There are almost 5,000 pieces of African American artifacts housed at the Jack Hadley Black History Museum in Thomasville.

"I see the need that of all our kids, black and white, know the history," James "Jack" Hadley - Founder / Executive Director, Jack Hadley Black History Museum said.

A testament to one man's passion for collecting, discovering, researching, educating, and preserving Black History.

"We have a place here that I know people can be proud of," an emotional Hadley said.

Hadley - a Thomasville native and historian - is the Founder and Executive Director of the museum.

"I am the 10th child of 14 siblings. I was born out on Pebble Hill Plantation which is about seven miles south from here," Hadley said.

Born in 1936, Hadley was the grandson of a slave.

"When I came to Thomasville, I only had about 100 pieces that I had collected and we did my first exhibit at my church," Hadley said.

Established in 1995, the now vast museum - housed in the old Douglass High School - has African-American artifacts from pre-slavery to modern day.

"I got my brother-in-law Mack Robinson's jacket that he wore in 1936 - and he ran against Jesse Owens in 1936 and he's Jackie Robinson's brother," Hadley said.

Of all the artifacts - Mr. Hadley says his most treasured is this bull horn.

His grandfather was a slave and he used this bull horn to call the slaves to and from the fields for over 40 years.

"That is my most important piece in the museum - just to have that piece of legacy from my grandfather who was a slave," Hadley said.

The collection emphasizes Thomasville's First Black Achievers.

Daniel Pittman is the museum's new Executive Director.

"We really want to show the children that there are people who made differences in your own community," Pittman said. "That you don't necessarily have to go to Washington, D.C. our outside your own community."

Decades dedicated to the careful preservation of hundreds of years of African American history. Each piece a story unto itself to educate and inspire.

"It just lifts me up when I walk through this museum to know that - it's like walking down memory lane. We put together this collection that will be around for years to come," Hadley said.

The museum is hosting "Re-ignite History", the 4th annual Save the Imperial Hotel Gala on Saturday, Nov. 5.