Celebrate Black History Month at the SCAD Museum of Art on Super Museum Sunday

A Journey of History and Preservation

SCAD
Top: The historical marker at SCAD’s Jen Library to mark the civil rights sit-in at the former Levy’s department store/Azalea Room diner. Above: A photo taken in Trustees Theater across the street with photos of the three sit-in students on the screen.

The SCAD Museum of Art invites guests to travel throug history on Feb. 6 for Super Museum Sunday with free SCAD Tours. 

The tour celebrates Black History Month and shines a light on SCAD’s commitment to preserving local Black history and the university’s lasting fellowship with community leaders.

“I get excited when people get the opportunity to engage and learn more about their history,” said Darrell Naylor-Johnson, Senior Director of Library Services at SCAD and one of the tour guides.

Naylor-Johnson has been a part of the SCAD family for more than 30 years. First as a student and then as an employee. He has watched first-hand the changes and impact SCAD has had on preservation and the history behind the buildings saved. 

“Since the 1980s SCAD president and founder Paula Wallace has been working with community leaders like former Mayor Edna Jackson, pioneer African American art collector Dr. Walter Evans, and the late W.W. Law and Dr. Abigail Jordan,” said Naylor-Johnson.  

“Together they collaborated to save buildings - including some of the first schools for Black children in Savannah, and the Central of Georgia Railway depot which was built by enslaved people - and install historical markers, create monuments, and produce films to tell important stories for generations to come.”

From significant civil rights sites to major contemporary restoration initiatives, each stop on the tour centers visionary voices from Savannah’s African American past, present, and future.

The bus tours will pass by many significant Black historical buildings and markers and make a few stops - at the SCAD Museum of Art, Arnold Hall, and Jen Library to showcase significant moments in Savannah’s Black history that SCAD has helped preserve and honor.

One building on the tour is the Beach Institute, founded in 1865 during Reconstruction as the first official school for African-Americans in Savannah. 

The building had been abandoned, and in 1988 prominent Savannahian W.W. Law asked SCAD president and founder Paula Wallace to save the Beach Institute. 

SCAD won the bid to purchase the building and restored it. Today, the original historic building is home to the Beach Institute African-American Cultural Center.

“Law understood of the importance of the community and of that school. Now having it preserved and being a part of the community highlights the importance of the building and the importance of the work displayed there,” said Naylor-Johnson.

Other parts of the tour include SCAD’s role in designing and sculpting Savannah’s African American monument, the history of Virginia Jackson Kiah, and more.

“It’s an ongoing telling of a story. After the building is preserved, we get people talking about it and wanting to learn more. I see people doing that more so they can understand the depth and richness of history in the city,” said Naylor-Johnson.

Tours also include special performances by current performing arts students and American Idol winner Candice Glover (B.F.A. dramatic writing) and a screening in the SCAD MOA theater of the SCAD-produced documentary “A Thousand Miles and Counting,” which explores the historic journey of William and Ellen Craft as they navigated the country, including the site where the museum now stands, in pursuit of freedom from enslavement.

The free two-hour tours will be held at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m., beginning and ending at the SCAD Museum of Art located at 106 Turner Blvd. Tickets are available on eventbrite.com - just search for SCAD Tours



About The Author

Kareem McMichael

Kareem McMichael is a filmmaker, documentarian, writer, and multimedia content creator. The Macon native enjoys entertainment, and sharing with locals and visitors’ stories about Savannah’s art and culture scene. When he is not working, he enjoys relaxing at the beach, grabbing a drink, hitting a fun art event,...
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