January 24, 2020

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU’s Copeland African American Museum Opens Jan. 28

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University will celebrate the grand opening of its Copeland African American Museum on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

The festivities will begin at 1:30 p.m. in Pound Hall Auditorium on VSU’s Rea and Lillian Steele North Campus. Josh Harvey-Clemons, a 25-year-old Valdosta native and football linebacker for the Washington Redskins, will deliver the keynote presentation, discussing the importance of education and family and how hard work, perseverance, and faith have the power to overcome obstacles and make dreams come true.

Guests will then move to Crane Plaza where they will have an opportunity to meet Harvey-Clemons and enjoy beverages and snacks. Tours of the Copeland African American Museum will begin in Thaxton Hall, and guests will be invited inside as space becomes available.

In 2016 Roy and Cheryl Copeland gifted their entire African American memorabilia collection to VSU’s Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration.

Believing the collection deserved a place where it could be permanently displayed and enjoyed by guests for many generations to come, Dr. L. Wayne Plumly, college dean, found a cozy, easily accessible spot on the second floor of Thaxton Hall, and with support from various groups across campus, turned it into a destination for anyone seeking inspiration, knowledge, a change of perspective, and food for conversation.

“African American history, and the preservation thereof, is near and dear to my heart,” Roy Copeland said. “My wife and I decided that VSU was the best place to house the collection. It’s local, and I think we need a place where local folks have access to this material.” 

The Copeland African American Museum collection spans more than 150 years of history and features more than 75 pieces, which the Copelands began collecting in 1989 when Cheryl Copeland surprised Roy Copeland with a set of autographed Muhammad Ali boxing gloves for Christmas. She continued to select a unique piece of history for him every year, and soon the couple began collecting even more African American memorabilia at live auctions, online auctions, garage sales, antique houses, and more.

The current Copeland African American Museum exhibit houses about a third of the total collection, including those Muhammad Ali boxing gloves. The displays are scheduled to change twice a year, encouraging guests of all ages to return to the museum again and again for a fresh learning experience.

Following the Jan. 28 grand opening celebration, the Copeland African American Museum will be open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Group tours may be scheduled by contacting TaMara Tolbert, graduate assistant for the museum, at caammuseum@valdosta.edu or (229) 245-2448. Parking passes may be obtained via email with advance notification.   

VSU’s Rea and Lillian Steele North Campus is located at the intersection of Patterson Street and Pendleton Drive, across from South Georgia Medical Center.