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History Museum Opens Exhibit for African-American History Month

Briana Simmons

From the founding of the city of Springfield in 1830 until about the 1980s, African-Americans have held onto a rich and unique history often overshadowed with the realities of enslavement and racial tension. KSMU’s Briana Simmons caught a preview of the History Museum on the Square’s exhibit entitled “We’ve Always Been Here”.

Pictures of African-American students attending Lincoln High school, past members of the NAACP, and the famous Graham’s Barbeque restaurant grace the walls of the Fox Theater, telling an untold story of African-American livelihood in the Ozarks area.

“This gives you a broad overview of what this is about,” Sellars said.

John Sellars is the director of the History Museum.

“It talks about when the Delaware and other tribes from Indiana were displaced and resettled here in 1818 a bunch of fur traders and people followed them that had dealt with them in Indiana and they brought four slaves with them.”

In 1830, when John Polk Campbell, the man who founded Springfield, came here he brought six slaves with him.

“Those 10 slaves were the first African-Americans in this area and helped to build what has become Springfield through their hard work. It talks about those early people who their names are lost in history and what we’re trying to do to in move on through and talk about the amazing contributions the African-American community has made to this area of the last two centuries,” Sellars said.

Since 2005, Sellars has used his upbringing in Springfield for most of his life to tell unique stories of this area. He thought up the title of this year’s African-American Heritage Month exhibit.

“It sounded so accurate. Always here but unnoticed and we want to change that,” Sellars said.

While the History Museum on The Square is undergoing renovation, the exhibit will be open at the Fox Theater located at 157 Park Central Square. Adults and children are invited to visit the exhibit Monday through Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until the end of March. Tickets are available at the door.

Additional African-American Heritage Month events:

Missouri State's Division of Diversity and Inclusion Diversity Blog, Full Calendar

Association of Black Collegians, Missouri State University, 2/8/15-2/13/15

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Week, Missouri State University, 2/17/15-2/22/15

Rights of Passage, play by Michelle T. Johnson, directed by Jon Herbert, Big Momma’s Back Porch Theater, 2/6/15-3/1/15,

Meet and Greet Celebration, Midwest Carnegie Library, 2/7/15