“The Walker Area Community Foundation exists and operates for all the residents and visitors of Walker County. The black communities of Walker County continue to be of great importance and with this exhibit, we honor the legacy and heritage of this outstanding group of citizens,” reads an introduction outside the main gallery.
One of the highlights is a wall of photos recognizing the first African Americans from Walker County to achieve various milestones, from a state trooper and mine foreman to ballplayers, cheerleaders and school administrators.
The importance of education is a recurring theme in the exhibit.
Photos are included of all nine of the county’s Rosenwald Schools, which were established throughout the South between 1917 and 1932. Funding for the schools was provided through a partnership between Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald, the president of Sears and Roebuck.
Numerous mementos from the Walker County Training School are part of the exhibit, including band uniforms, diplomas and a photo of Professor Clarence White and the school superintendent signing his first contract to WCTS.
Another part of the exhibit details the contributions made by African Americans through businesses and occupations that range from grocery stores to law firms.
In the area of athletics, the Bankhead family of Empire are finally given credit for their outstanding talent.
Five Bankhead brothers played for the Birmingham Black Barons. One, Dan Bankhead, became the first black pitcher to be signed by a Major League team in 1947, the same year that Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier.
The opening reception for “Walker County’s African American Legacy” will be held Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m at the Bankhead House and Heritage Center.
The exhibit will continue through June 21. Admission is free.
A Heritage Fun Day is scheduled for Saturday, April 20, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Walker County native and renowned folk artist Maurice Cook will give a painting demonstration.