April 12, 2022
Darrell Smith and his aunt, Bernice Henry, have spent the last year piecing together the stories of Ashland, K.Y.’s strong, resilient Black community to start the city’s first Black history museum that will reside within the community center.
Mrs. Henry acts as the President of the C.B. Nuckolls Community Center and Black History Museum. Henry said that while the name is quite long, it holds much significance to her and her community.
“The reason being so is because Professor C.B. Nuckolls was the Black principal of the only Black school here in Ashland, so we are keeping that as a reference back to him,” said Henry.
Although the school no longer stands, its memory and its impact are rich in the community, which boasts many alumni of the Booker T. Washington School.
Henry said she went to the school for 9 years, and when asked if she knew C.B. Nuckolls, she let out a reminiscent laugh and replied, “Quite well!”
Henry said the idea to start the C.B. Nuckolls Community Center and Black History Museum stemmed from an idea her nephew, Darrell, had.
“He has put out a Black History page, and that has gone on for a little over a year,” Henry said.
The page received immense support and feedback from alumni of Booker T. Washington School and former residents of Ashland submitting photos and sharing their stories.
“Darrell always said he wanted a museum,” Henry said. “I thought, ‘What a great, great tribute to our town and what a great legacy for the community!’”
“When I started the Black history page on Facebook, it just kind of grew,” Smith said. “Crazy, it has almost been two years now, but there are over 3,000 articles and pictures. They keep adding and adding and adding.”
Smith said he is expecting five albums full of old photos of Ashland’s Black community from a friend’s mother who has grown too ill to remember the names to be contributed to the museum in the coming weeks.
“I’ll take them all!” Smith said. “And I don’t care if we know them or not because we can find out.”
Smith shared his plan to archive all materials donated to the museum as a resource for academics and scholars as well as a tool to research genealogy.