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Mamie Hillman, executive director of the new Greene County African American Museum, readies for its grand opening this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

On Oct. 16, the Greene County African American Museum is opening its doors to tell the untold stories of African-Americans from Greene County.

The Grand Opening will begin at the Museum with story-telling, drumming, music, and food from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by an honoring of the ancestors at the Penfield African American Cemetery from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. All are welcome to attend both events, which are free of charge and are designed in accordance with COVID-safe guidelines.

Since its planning began in 1995, the vision for the Greene County African American Museum has been “to acknowledge, honor, and celebrate the lives of our ancestors who came before us — those who were not honored in life, and have yet to be honored in death,” says Mamie Hillman, Executive Director of the Museum.

Located near downtown Greensboro, the Museum will feature exhibits on the many chapters of African and African American history as they relate to Greene County, from enslavement to Reconstruction to Jim Crow to Civil Rights to more recent times.

Some of the notable African Americans born and raised in Greene County include the Rev. Adam Daniel Williams, second pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, first director of the Atlanta NAACP, and grandfather of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and Abram Colby, among the first African Americans to serve as Georgia state senator after Emancipation. Both Williams and Colby were born enslaved and were leaders in the struggle for equality and freedom for all.

The mission of the Museum includes staging exhibits within its walls, but also identifying and preserving sites in the County important to African American history. Recently, Museum Director Mamie Hillman discovered a massive African American cemetery buried in overgrowth and fallen trees on the other side of the wall of the historic and picturesque Penfield Cemetery, where the founders of Mercer University are buried.

Together with members of the local community and Mercer University, Hillman initiated the effort to restore the African American section of the cemetery and help descendants of those buried there to find their ancestors’ graves.

At the ritual in the cemetery on the day of the Grand Opening, many of those descendants will be present to honor those who came before them, as will contingents from the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, and Mercer University in Macon. Mercer University owns the adjoining cemetery and will be removing a section of the wall that segregates the graves of those buried there in advance of the event on Oct. 16.

The Greene County African American Museum is located at 1415 Northeast Street in Greensboro. It is dedicated to the empowerment of and truth-telling about African American lives in Greene County. The Museum is designed to inspire clarity of heart and mind by sharing with all the important contributions and stories of Greene County’s African American community throughout its history to the present day. For more information, visit gcaam.org or call (706) 372-4562.

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