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There is historical significance to where Brazos Valley African American Museum stands

Posted at 1:48 PM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 14:48:40-05

BRAZOS COUNTY — The history behind the plot of land where the Brazos Valley African American Museum goes much further back than 2006 when it opened.

Before it was the Brazos Valley African American Museum, this was where the “The Bryan Public School for Coloreds” once stood.

"It's a resource for the community. That's what a school is and that's what a museum is," Oliver Sadberry, Curator, Brazos Valley African American Museum said.

Opening in 1886, it was the first place people of color were allowed to attend school in Brazos County. A part of it burned in 1913 and was rebuilt into a brick building. The school site transitioned to Washington Elementary after Kemp Junior-Senior High was built across town in 1930.

Oliver Sadberry, Curator, Brazos Valley African American Museum

"My father was the last principal at the- when it was Elementary of Washington so I had a strong feeling for the property," Sadberry said.

Even though Oliver Sadberry didn't attend the school, it broke his heart to see Washington Elementary burn down in 1971.

"It was just devastating. It was senseless- You know that's the first thing that I think about. All it was doing was helping people, educating people," Sadberry, said.

The former school held family records for people in the African American community to refer back to.

"Dad really felt strong about that being a service to the public," Sadberry said.

Bryan schools were integrated after the fire.

The land remained vacant for some years. Now occupied by Washington Park and the museum.

This land full of history and knowledge continues to be a resource for African Americans.

The Brazos Valley African American Museum one of five African American museums throughout the state.