Black History Month was celebrated at the Auburn Museum in February, featuring several of the city’s most prestigious African Americans. Mrs. Eloise Hadden, founder of the museum, noted the importance of African Americans to Auburn and their rich historical backgrounds, which helped mold the city to what it is today.
We are proud to honor those individuals who were born, grew up and made their homes in Auburn, said Hadden.
Black History Month is an annual observance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African Americans. Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” This week was chosen because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.
Hadden said she likes to make sure the museum has something representing special times of the year. This is definitely one of those special times, she believes. There are a lot of interesting people in Auburn and Hadden said she is pleased to be able to highlight their lives.
Some of those honored include Margaret Munday, Rose Morrow, Jesse Tisdale, Charlie Offutt, Flora Malone and J.W. Viers. All of these individuals have had an impact of the city of Auburn and Logan County as a whole.
Munday was the first African American to attend Western Kentucky University Teachers College. She was recently inducted into the Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame at Western. She taught music for 34 years in the Logan County School System and her name appears on a scholarship fund for students.
Morrow was very well known for her cooking, especially her cakes. She was the Grand Marshal for the Auburn parade and was very active in United Women.
Tisdale was a great musician and he and Offutt were among the first African Americans to attend Auburn High School. Most black people in Auburn attended the Auburn and Adairville Training Schools, along with Knob City School in Russellville before the ending of segregation.
Malone has raised several very successful children, all of whom are college graduates and some who were not allowed to go to school with whites until the 1960s. Malone said she fought for her children to go to Auburn because she wanted them to get the best education they could. She said it was hard, but was well worth it.
One of Malone’s children, Shirley, is doctor, a psychologist, scholar, professor, administrator, and consultant, and is the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Psychology & Human Development at Wheelock College in Boston, Mass. Malone has one son Rickie, who owns his own business; Stephanie who is the Assistant General Council Attorney for the Jefferson County Public School system; Sylvia who is a Registered Nurse having worked at Vanderbilt for 30 years and Celida who works for the State Department in Washington D.C. Malone also has a granddaughter, Ashley Malone, who is a graduate of Yale University and is now attending Vanderbilt Law School.
Viers was one of the first blacks to serve on the Auburn City Council.
“There were trailblazers,” said Munday, of those highlighted at the Auburn Museum.