February 20, 2014

Emery Center making right moves

The Daily Citizen

— The Emery Center, a nonprofit multicultural center focusing on the history of Dalton and particularly on the black community, is making a move to become more visible.

On Saturday, a traveling exhibit from the center will be on display at the Mack Gaston Community Center in Dalton from 2 to 6 p.m. in the hopes of sparking interest in the center.

If the response is good, then more exhibits can be expected.

This is a positive move for the center and one we hope area residents will support.

The Emery Center hit upon hard times last year, as the city, which owns the building and leases it to a board, said repairs must be done to the building by the end of the year or it would be closed. Repairs and upgrades were estimated to be more than $80,000.

But the Emery Center’s board’s efforts to raise the money were successful and the city recognized that and extended the deadline for repairs. There has even been talk of the city offering matching funds.

The center has received enough funds to remain open. The annual budget is approximately $14,000, and there are no paid staff.

But fundraising is still an ongoing issue with the historic building, which was built in 1924 and educated the black children of the area until the late 1960s when it was desegregated and turned into a junior high school. The Emery Center has been around since a 20-year lease was signed in 2003.

Establishing a brand and becoming a larger presence in the community is vital to the continuation of the center. The traveling exhibit is one step toward helping to accomplish that.

The plans are to have some of the collections from each of the center’s rooms on display to give people an overview of what the center offers. That hopefully will strike up some interest in the various aspects of the history of this area.

Saturday’s exhibit will highlight the Martin Luther King Jr. room, a military room and a room on slavery. Board members will be on hand to answer questions and talk with visitors about what the center offers. There also will be fundraising calendars for $15 and, of course, board members will be glad to accept donations of money or offers to help with repairs.

Since the community has responded so well to help keep the center open with financial donations, perhaps the traveling exhibits will trigger more interest in the center and encourage its use as a historical and educational destination as well as a site for gatherings.