DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - A museum is central Illinois works to educate the community about African-American history and culture.
The African-American Cultural and Genealogical Society of Illinois and Museum walks you through the journey of African-Americans in the United States and central Illinois.
Evelyn Hood, Executive Director, said most people who go through the museum feel motivated when they walk out. "In order to know where you are going, you should always reflect back, because it teaches you things that have happened."
Throughout the year, Hood works to find new and interesting topics and people to feature in the museum. She recalled one afternoon when a 92-year-old woman walked in and showed her a glamorous head shot. Hood was taken aback and asked who was in the photo. The woman, Corrine Jarrett, told her it was her.
"I later learned she was the first black actress here in Decatur. She acted at Theatre 7, the theatre in Sullivan and the Millikin theatre. She also acted with famous people from all over Hollywood."
After meeting Jarrett, Hood was excited to announce she would their person of the year and felt Jarrett's legacy could bring inspiration to a younger generation of African-American women.
"When they see somebody that has gone on through hard times, and let me just say that it was not easy, because of the difficulties that we have in our society... I think it will motivate them."
In addition to learning about Jarrett, the Executive Director also came across Jack Owens, a baseball player from Millikin that went on to be inducted into the Negro League Baseball Museum Hall of Fame.
"He became a teacher and taught high school and went ahead and played with Satchel Paige and all of them," Hood explained. "When we talk about the younger people, I think this will inspire them to become the best."
Hood believes showcasing people like Jarrett and Owens will inspire a younger generation and will motivate people to learn more about African-American history and culture within the community.
"It (the museum) brings out a lot of things that the community would not know about. We are here to share our history, our culture, everything, diversity and I think if we weren't here it would be a missing piece of the puzzle."
The museum is partnering with Theatre 7 for an event featuring famous African-Americans to hit theatre. The event is February 17 at 5 p.m. at the African-American Cultural and Genealogical Society and Museum.
To learn more about the museum click here.