|The famous Woolworth's lunch table, nestled in the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro|
Some members of the City Council might wish they could postpone the civil rights center decision until after the election.
A vote on the request for $1.5 million is delayed for two weeks, to Aug. 20, Taft Wireback reports.
The center needs $750,000 right away and wants the same amount to keep in reserve, Skip Alston said.
So, I would ask why the request should not stop at $750,000. See how that's spent. If necessary, give some more later.
Not that I necessarily would vote to give even that much. It would depend.
Clearly, a majority of council members was not prepared to do so, hence the postponement. If you haven't got the votes to win, then don't vote.
Mayor Robbie Perkins is playing for a win.
This will impact his chances for re-election, however -- if his opponent, Councilwoman Nancy Vaughan, votes against the funding.
Third candidate George Hartzman has said he would not support it.
From what I sense, the general electorate might lean toward a "no" on this question.
City finances are very tight and, well, when it's Skip Alston holding his hand out, let's just say there's an element of skepticism, even distrust. The candidate who says yes might pay a political price.
The dilemma here is that the International Civil Rights Center & Museum needs to stay in business. It's an outstanding facility that tells one of Greensboro's most important stories (and it could tell that story more effectively by changing its name to the Greensboro Sit-in Museum to distinguish itself from other civil rights museums). If it's financially healthy, it will be a strong asset for the community.
Its financial burden is heavy in large part because of the hugely expensive renovation work that was needed to upfit the old Woolworth to a museum-quality structure.
You may recall there was an underground river flowing through the property.
The work was done very well. I happened to be in the lower level attending a program featuring the governor a couple of years ago when that Virginia-centered earthquake rattled North Carolina. Nobody felt a thing down there. If there's ever a nuclear strike, seek shelter down there. It may be the safest place in Greensboro.
Critics complain about the low number of visitors. That's a problem. So, have you bought an admission ticket and been through the museum?
I have, and it's a worthwhile experience. I've also bought some items -- a coffee mug, a book, note cards -- in its gift shop.
By now, 3 1/2 years after its opening, everyone in Guilford County should have been there. Whether or not the museum gets more public support, it ought to get more support from the public -- meaning us, the people who live here.
Is it being managed and marketed as well as it should be? The council needs to consider that. It ought to see a plan for how $750,000 in city money would be spent. There should be reasonable expectations of success.
But regular folks shouldn't need a marketing campaign. They shouldn't need an invitation. They should just go and help out.
Save the museum. Buy a ticket. Buy a coffee mug in the gift shop. Learn something while you're there.
So not long after this Woolworth announced its closing in 1993, the building was acquired with the hope of making it a museum. It took $23 million in public and private funds to fulfill that vision; the museum’s architects are the Freelon Group of Durham, N.C., and its exhibitions were designed by Eisterhold Associates of Kansas City, Mo.
Its founders, Melvin Alston, a Guilford County commissioner, and Representative Earl Jones of the North Carolina legislature, are expected to attend Monday morning’s opening ceremony on the 50th anniversary of the sit-in, along with state and national officials. One of the original protesters, Mr. McCain, a retired chemist who made his career in Charlotte, is scheduled to speak. Two others, Mr. McNeil and Jibreel Khazan (the name Mr. Blair now uses) will also be onstage; the fourth, Mr. Richmond, died in 1990.
Of course, since this museum was conceived, civil rights institutions and memorials have been proliferating, but the task of capturing the full scope of the movement seems ever more imposing. As it recedes in time, its history grows not smaller and simpler but grander and more complex. And this museum, in a region where ordinary life was a matter of bitter conflict, looks at the movement not as an uplifting triumph — which it surely was, however imperfect and however incomplete — but as a heroic battle fought through a dark maze of grim restrictions and dangerous confrontations. No doubt it was that as well.