Celebrating 25 years of the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum

Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum
Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum(WTOC)
Updated: Feb. 2, 2021 at 4:50 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - From Martin Luther King, Jr. to our very own Ron Wallace, when you walk into the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum in downtown Savannah, you’ll see many of the pioneers who fought for equal rights in our community.

The doors are shut right now at the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum due to the pandemic, but the mission lives on, and this year marks a special milestone in the museum’s effort to share these important stories.

Museum Director Vaughnette Goode Walker could not be more excited for the museum’s silver anniversary. She says the museum’s popularity continues to grow, with many wanting to learn about the city’s civil rights icons.

“People come here almost like a pilgrimage if you will, were coming in droves pre-COVID. They come and the first thing they want to know is who is Mark Gilbert and how does he get a whole building named after him,” Goode Walker said.

Gilbert, a giant of a man who’s work set the stage for many.

“The man who set fire under the NAACP. In 1942, he reignited the organization and would become the father of the modern civil rights movement in the state of Georgia,” Goode Walker said.

And of course, we can’t forget another Savannah legend.

“He also mentored the man we know in later years, Westley Wallace Law. W.W. Law is the reason I can stand here today and recount 25 years of history,” Goode Walker said.

To celebrate those 25 years, the museum has plans to expand.

“Right now, the museum is in the process of doing an exhibit expansion so when you come in, you’ll see the timeline. You’ll learn more about Gilbert, W.W. Law, Hosea Williams,” Goode Walker said. “The exhibits are static, but the story does change, and with this expansion we’ll hear the then and now.”

Goode-Walker hopes locals will take advantage of this opportunity.

“Generations of Savannahians need to come back to the museum. When we reopen our doors, we will reopen first to our community outside of our door.”

And she says it’s important everyone learns about our past, while still looking forward.

“This is American history.”

Just because the museum is closed due to the pandemic doesn’t mean you can’t do a virtual visit. They have plenty of resources available online.

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