History of the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum

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You can find this wonderful museum on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in an old African American bank. When first arriving to the museum you can not ignore the great architecture that was constructed in 1914. The building in itself tells a story that is still alive today. It was built by african americans for african americans. Once inside you automatically feel a sense of history everywhere. Starting with events in the 1800s, including the meeting of black ministers with Sherman in 1865 , the museum focuses primarily on the events of the 1960s as Savannah faced integration and the struggle of African Americans to gain equal rights. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and the short film was a wonderful opening to learning about the civil rights movement in Savannah.

The museum is named after a prominent civil rights activist, Ralph Mark Gilbert. He originally came to Savannah as a pastor for the First African Baptist Church. While living in Savannah Gilbert organized a children's center and West Broad street YMCA. He also helped to improve the Savannah branch of the NAACP. While being president of the Savannah chapter of the NAACP he also became president of the Georgia conference for NAACP. Throughout Gilberts tenure more than fourty NAACP chapters were organized. Some big movements that he helped contribute to was launching a city wide black voter registration drive. After so many African Americans were registered to vote in Savannah a shift in the type of politicians that ran the city came and in 1947 Savannah became one of the first cities in the South to hire black police officers.

Without the help of W. W. Law this wonderful museum probably would not be in Savannah today. He wanted people to know about the civil rights history right here in Savannah through a non profit organization. In the early 1990’s he worked to find funding for the museum and a location. W. W. Law is also talked about in the museum and he was another one of Savannah's...
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