Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Local News

January 31, 2013

No barriers with solemn look back

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — There will be no color barriers with a special gathering this weekend when a brand new museum exhibit is dedicated in Wynnewood.

Meant to be a celebration and show of unity for all people is the unveiling of an exhibit at the Eskridge Hotel Museum honoring the history of the black community in the Wynnewood area.

The dedication of the Black History Room in the museum is set from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3.

The exhibit called Project Room 14 was designed and created by Rev. Jokori Taylor, who knows Wynnewood well since it is his hometown.

Put simply, the exhibit will house various items showing the history of the black community of Wynnewood dating all the way back to the Civil War era.

It’s easy to see the excitement on Taylor’s face when he talks about what the exhibit represents and what he hopes it can do for all people when they think back to the history of the community.

“This exhibit honors the black community of Wynnewood,” Taylor said.

“A lot of people, old and young, will be involved in this, black and white,” he said. “It will cross a lot of areas and consolidate us all. We will be one people, that one day at least.

“It shows that it can be done in peace.”

The history shown in the exhibit highlights the Hopewell community from the 1860s to the present day black population of Wynnewood.

It will also include some information on the Big Woods community, which was settled by early blacks sometime after Hopewell.

“There are artifacts and stories and photos, a lot of photos showing the history of the black community here,” Taylor said.

Much of the exhibit will look at Wynnewood’s early day settlers and include such items as a diploma from the last black school in Wynnewood.

To be added later are fragments of the first black church in Wynnewood, which to this day still has its foundation in place.

Sunday’s event will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring Taylor’s grandmother, 87-year-old Jewel Washington, who Taylor says is the oldest living person of the black community in Wynnewood. The dedication is planned for 2 p.m.

“It will signify the breakthrough into a new era for the black community, as well as the town of Wynnewood,” Taylor said.

Then comes the tours of the exhibit followed by a dedication service complete with songs from a community choir and a solo from the last segregated school teacher in Wynnewood, including the “Lord’s Prayer.”

“This is a historical event for the black community of Wynnewood and hopefully bring forth unity within our town,” he added.

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