The Smith Robertson Museum

When visiting Mississippi in USA’s Deep South it’s likely that many of you will be heading to the state capital, Jackson City. Jackson is certainly a place worth visiting for anyone interested in Mississippi and its here that you can see some of the State’s most poignant history concerning the journey of the African American people and their struggle for equality that is still a highly charged political issue to this day. Jackson has played no small part in this subject and its here you will find one of the most enlightening museums about it in the country, the Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Centre.

The goal of the museum is to increase the awareness and understanding of the historical experience and culture of American that are from African descent amongst the general public. This is done through a series of enlightening permanent exhibits that cover the topic extensively. Perhaps their most notable addition is the ‘Field to Factory’ exhibit organised by the Smithsonian Travelling Exhibition Services. This covers the African American migration between 1915 and 1940 from the South to the North in great numbers. Other exhibits cover the notable players in the civil rights movement, scholars, doctors and the important areas of Jackson that profoundly affected the culture and rights of the African American people, one of which is the building it’s housed in.

What is now the Smith Robertson Museum was once the Smith Robertson School which played a crucial role in local African American culture; this was the first public school for African Americans in Jackson, Mississippi. It first opened in the year 1894 and served the people until its closure in 1971. The school was named after Mr. Smith Robertson; he was born a slave in 1847 in Fayette, Alabama. After the American Civil War he moved from Fayette to Jackson and it was here he began his successful barber business. In time he began to become a major player in local politics and eventually became the first African American Alderman in the City.

The school had gone on to become a key part of the local history and culture of Jackson, naturally after the integration of African Americans into what were previously all white schools the Smith Robertson was no longer needed and later became threatened with demolition in 1971. Concerned citizens rallied and created a petition in order to prevent this and thankfully they were successful in doing so. Later in the year 1984 the school was transformed and the Museum and Cultural Centre was opened to the public.

This really is a great place to learn all about one of the most significant facets of America’s history and it’s presented in a truly captivating way. You’ll learn all about the works, artistic contributions, lifestyles and history of the African American community through a range of photography, artefacts, stories and art that will each add to your understanding of the experiences of the African American people in the Deep South. It’s one of the most important stories in Mississippi’s history and certainly is a must see.