UTICA — At the peak of Utica’s Bicentennial Celebration, the Underground Railroad and Black History Museum became a welcomed part of the village’s history and future.
“Everyone of you here is making history today,” said Utica Mayor Larry Friesel. He commended the tremendous effort made by museum founder and director, Rita Jackson, in seeing the museum come to fruition.
Licking County Historian, Robert Tharp, encouraged Jackson by saying, “I hope [the museum] will become a learning center for both adults and children.”
Ohio Senator Ray Miller gave the dedication speech, expressing the museum will allow the black community the opportunity to share its history and illustrate the changes in society’s perception of racial diversity. He concluded by saying as children visit this museum, they will learn to understand what freedom is all about.
Jackson originally planned for about 100 guests to the museum’s opening. Although no official numbers are available, attendance surpassed 100 guests.
“I’m so pleased to have so many people come,” said Jackson. “I had no idea so many people would be here. I believe [the museum] is what the community wants,” said Jackson.
In addition to touring the museum in the Kirkpatrick House, once used to hide runaway slaves, the Arma Anderson “Hat Lady” Collection was on display in the museum as well as various photographs and cultural artifacts on the first floor.