By The Dispatch, Columbus/Starkville
The H.L. Hunt Museum and Cultural Center held a grand-opening ceremony Thursday at the old high school, which served as Columbus’ black high school until integration.
Yet the most interesting aspect of the grand opening was not the various artifacts of the city’s black schools and its culture, but the visitors themselves.
More than 100 residents turned out for the event, milling about the museum to look at old class pictures from Hunt and its predecessor, Union Academy, along with mementos of distinguished black celebrities ranging from local Tuskegee Airman Alva Temple to civil rights pioneer E.J. Stringer to a handful of sports celebrities.
Later, in one of the old Hunt classrooms, various civic leaders and museum officials spoke to the crowd about the importance of preserving the city’s black heritage and discussed plans for the future of the facility.
In its current state, the real attractions were the smiles and animated conversations of the people who came to the event.
That said, there are some legitimate concerns about whether the facility will achieve its worthy goal.
As presently constituted, the exhibits are not likely to bring a return visit.
Perhaps there is a vision, as of yet unarticulated, that will ensure that the H.L. Hunt Museum and Cultural Center remains as compelling as it was during Thursday’s grand opening.
We hope that some of the money set aside will be used to attract speakers and programs that will entice citizens to return again and again.
The city’s black heritage is worth preserving, but the success of this endeavor depends on wise choices and careful planning.
The sooner the museum organizers can articulate that vision to the public, the better.
The Dispatch, Columbus/Starkville