By Coshandra Dillard
On Saturday, rooms at the Goodman-LeGrand House and Museum will transform to give a glimpse into the experience of African Americans throughout history. A Century of Black Life, History and Culture, is presented by the mobile museum, Yesterday’s Tomorrow.
The first of several upcoming exhibits at the venue is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the historic home at 624 N. Broadway Ave.
The event includes artifacts and memorabilia from Tyler resident Marlondos Fields’ private collections and donations that reflect African American history.
Fields, a retired Navy veteran, began Yesterday’s Tomorrow in August to share his passion for history and promote an appreciation for black culture.
Fields’ love for black history was piqued about 17 years ago when he discovered some little known history facts while in the Navy.
He’d go on to spearhead multicultural and black history projects at Naval Station Norfolk. He wanted to continue his promotion of black history in his new city.
“Once I got into Tyler, I figured out what I could do,” he said.
His historical research has led him to figures such as Nat Turner and Geronimo Pratt; and his collection includes antebellum-era dolls and African relics such as masks. Fields researches each piece and is careful not to secure reproduced artifacts, he said.
An Orlando, Fla. native, Fields said he didn’t learn much about black history growing up, as the city was enveloped mostly by the culture surrounding Mickey Mouse, beaches and oranges.
“Everybody needs to get out of where they’re from,” he said. “We’re more than what we see on television.”
Fields selected Goodman for the exhibit because he said it is a “beautiful canvas” to display his collection.
Built in 1859, the Goodman home was the first property in Smith County to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Fields’ projects reach beyond museums. He also presents his displays, along with history lessons, at schools. He is a member of several local organizations and is the president of the Friends of the Tyler Public Library. He also passes out books featuring African American literature and poetry to local barber shops.
Fields recently received a degree in social work from Tyler Junior College and looks forward to continuing his education.
IF YOU GO
What: A Century of Black Life, History and Culture
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17
Where: Goodman-LeGrand House and Museum, 624 N. Broadway Ave
Admission: Free, but organizers are asking for a $2 donation that will go toward Yesterday’s Tomorrow
Info: Yesterday’s Tomorrow