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Albany's link to history opens

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By Jay Polk - bio | email

October 10, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Civil Rights movement was a turning point in the history of Albany.

On Friday an expanded museum opened showcasing African Americans' struggle for equality and Albany's role in the movement.

Jay Polk takes us inside of the new facility.

Albany, Georgia's nickname is the Good Life City.

But life wasn't always so good for everyone here in Albany.

Dr. William Anderson recalls what it was like:  "I was not accessed to the only hospital in town, Phoebe Putney. They would accept my patients, but only accept my patients to put them in the basement."

For many years, separate but equal was the law of the land. But beginning in the 1950s, brave men and women took on the status quo.

Dr. Anderson said, "these students, while they doing nothing more than registering people to vote, they were being harassed, they were being locked up, they would be intimidated."

So Dr. Anderson got involved.

"Sitting in my office seeing people go to jail for my rights. It asort of pricked my conscience and I said I can't do that", said Dr. Anderson.

Eventually the struggle for equal was won. But, there wasn't a place worthy of showcasing the Civil Rights Era in Albany.

Until now.

The Mt. Zion Albany Civil Rights Institute opened to visitors with a ribbon cutting featuring local dignitaries.

It took almost two years to get this museum to this day. For part of that time Danielle Blackwell has been in charge of the project. And it's more than just a museum.

"We have an archival system, a library and a study carol research center complete with computers", said Danielle Blackwell, the Executive Director of the Albany Civil Rights Institute.

The museum has some unique features, like the separate entrance doors that were common in 1956.

"This actually represents a time where the bus depot were segregated", said Blackwell.

By the end of the tour, "when you come out in 2008, come out of the exhibit, you come out of one door."

Showing the progress that we've all made in that time. In Albany, Jay Polk, WALB News 10.

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