CARBONDALE, Ill. — The African American Museum of Southern Illinois is preparing to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
The volunteer-run museum will be celebrating the milestone with a fundraising dinner at the Carbondale Civic Center on Sept. 23, the Southern Illinoisan reported. The event will feature a cocktail hour, dinner, music and a silent auction.
Founder Corene McDaniel said she became inspired to start the museum after reviewing applications for the NAACP awards. She said she was overwhelmed with the accomplishments of some of Carbondale’s black residents.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God. I didn’t know he did that, I didn’t know he did that,”’ McDaniel said. “And I got to thinking that if I’d been in Carbondale all those years and didn’t know it, all the other people did not know what our African-American citizens had done.”
The museum features a collection of artifacts, including slave shackles, Underground Railroad message quilts and paintings by local artists.
McDaniel said she’s proud that the museum has lasted so long, although she’d hoped that museum would have its own, freestanding facility by now. It’s located at University Mall in Carbondale.
“That’s still in the works, and hopefully it will be done before we celebrate 40,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel said she also hopes to see more volunteers.
“We need more involvement from the community,” McDaniel said.