CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) – The Christiansburg Institute was a school for African Americans from 1866 to 1966.
100 years later, it is an organization with a large alumni base.
Today, many of the school’s artifacts and history are brought together in a recently renovated museum.
“We tried to tell the tough stories, but we also balanced it with the incredible joy and community that encompassed CI,” said Jenny Nehrt, curator at the Christiansburg Institute Museum and Archives.
Their newly redesigned museum is now filled with other artifacts and documents from the school’s long history.
“It’s a place where people come to come together and remember their history, and it’s also a place for those who may not know anything about the Christiansburg Institute to come and learn more,” said Nehrt.
The museum includes more interactive exhibits for learners of all ages.
“Lockers, for example, is an interactive exhibit where each locker is assigned to alumni and discusses their time at CI, but also the impact of their education on their lives and how they themselves have influenced their communities. So when you open a locker, it’s full of items that aren’t original for the school, but are representative of their time at school, ”said Nehrt.
“One of those up there is Miss Amanda DeHart, who was one of my professors at the Christiansburg Institute, so I’m amazed at what is there.” said Debbie Sherman-Lee, board member of Christiansburg Institute, Inc.
Chris Sanchez, executive director of CI and newly appointed member of the African American History Board of Virginia, says it’s a growing season.
“We now have this book in every school in the school system. And in every public library, so that in itself, this awareness, this recognition of the introduction of African American educational resources into our public spaces in schools and libraries, is extremely stimulating for our team, ”he said. said Chris Sanchez, executive director of the Christiansburg Institute. , Inc.
“I wanted to get involved to help restore the Edgar A. Long building. Many of our seniors would like to see this. And I’d love to see that too, ”Sherman-Lee said.
And they’re in the right direction: the organization plans to unveil the new master plan for the former CI campus site to advance its campaign work and engage the community.
“We’re looking here in Montgomery County – like me, that’s where it’s going,” Sanchez said.
The museum also offers internships and work-study programs for high school and college students.
You can find out more by contacting CI on their website.
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