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Local museum looking to fill timeline of San Diego Black history

Local Museum looking to fill timeline of San Diego black history
Posted at 6:02 PM, Feb 09, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The San Diego History Center is launching a new initiative to fill in San Diego's Black history timeline and needs the public's help.

The local museum launched its new exhibit, "Celebrate San Diego: Black History and Heritage." It's a virtual and physical timeline of Black San Diegans.

"We are reaching out to the community," says Shelby Gordon with the San Diego History Center. "There are gaps and additional elements that need to be added there."

Gordon says the items they have so far are priceless. With a history dating back to the 1800s.

A photo on the timeline shows Solomon and Cordelia Johnson. The two were instrumental in forming the first Black church in San Diego in 1887, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The center also holds a keepsake from the church's 100th anniversary.

"It's a snapshot in time. It's a snapshot of generations. It's a snapshot of these individuals and families' commitment to this church," says Gordon.

Another historical marker in San Diego is the Douglas Hotel, which opened in 1924. The hotel "hosted the premier blacks acts of the time," says Gordon. The Douglas Hotel was one of the few places that artists could play during segregation.

Olympic runner, San Diego native, and Lincoln High Alum, Jackie Thompson Dunn, recently donated her competitor number from the Olympics in 1972. She made history as San Diego's first Black female Olympian.

The San Diego History Center is still looking for submissions to fill in the timeline and highlight some of San Diego's Black heroes.

Gordon says the initiative was launched during Black History Month, but they plan to keep building the physical and virtual exhibit for years to come.