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Labor Day BBQ benefits Black history museum

St. Frederick's African American History Museum

Artifacts, photos, books, and art from the St. Frederick Baptist Church’s African American history collection are currently on display at the Marble Falls Visitors Center, 100 Avenue G. The church is hosting a fundraiser on Labor Day, Sept. 4, to build a permanent museum on its grounds, 301 Avenue N in Marble Falls. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

Enjoy barbecue and homemade desserts at St. Frederick Baptist Church’s Labor Day fundraiser for its African American Museum. The event begins at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 4, at the church, 301 Avenue N in Marble Falls.

St. Frederick’s is nearing its set goals for a planned museum groundbreaking in November.

“We need to raise $1,000 a month to break ground,” said Bessie Jackson, who’s leading the project. “We have almost $100,000, so we do fundraisers, fundraisers, fundraisers.”

Jackson spoke about the community’s need for a Black history museum on KBEY 103 FM with host Mac McClennahan. She recalled a recent presentation she gave to a classroom.

“No one knew who Harriet Tubman was,” she said. “I can understand not knowing who Bessie Jackson is, but to not know Harriet Tubman, that’s outrageous. This museum will change that.”

Tubman escaped slavery in 1849 and became an operator of the Underground Railroad, a secret network of people and places that helped slaves escape to freedom. She is one of the most revered figures in American history and soon might be the new face of the $20 bill.

Jackson said her research has also taught her a lot.

“The security system you have in here was invented by a Black person, a woman, who was a nurse,” she said about the KBEY studio. “I just learned that in the last six months.” 

Marie Van Brittan Brown invented the first home security system in 1966. A Black woman from Jamaica, Queens, she lived in a high-crime neighborhood and worked odd hours. She invented the first closed-circuit TV security system so she could see who was knocking at her door.

Along with information on historical figures and historic contributions, the museum will showcase local Black students who have found success in life, Jackson said.

“We want to make sure that everybody knows we are an accomplished people,” she said. “Those kids who go through that school district need to know they can be anybody they want to be.”

St. Frederick’s has been collecting artifacts, artwork, photos, and stories for at least 20 years. A portion of the collection is currently on display at the Marble Falls Visitors Center, 100 Avenue G. More can be found in the church’s fellowship hall. In February, during Black History Month, St. Frederick’s usually puts up a display at The Falls on the Colorado Museum, 2001 Broadway in Marble Falls.

“It will be much better when it’s all in one place,” Jackson said. “The museum will be open year around for people to learn about Black history, not just in February.”

The Labor Day barbecue will bring that reality one step closer, she said.

Enjoy barbecue beef plates with two sides for $14.50, barbecue sandwiches for $8, and tea or water for $1.

Homemade desserts will be $5 for individual servings and include peach, blueberry, and apple cobbler; pound, cream, and chocolate cake; and pecan pie.

Attendees can also shop for arts and crafts, listen to live music, and play games.