April 13, 2022

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Copeland African American Museum Wins Google Ad Grants Award




VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University’s Copeland African American Museum has earned a Google Ad Grants award to enhance and expand its unwavering efforts to preserve and uplift the stories of African American history.

Dr. Amy Watson, interim museum director, said the in-kind grant includes an annual, renewable $240,000 credit that can be used for promoting the Copeland African American Museum through Google and YouTube. It also includes access to exclusive training programs to help the museum maximize its digital presence, and it puts the museum on Google Maps.

“I was sitting in the stands of a VSU Athletics event when I got the email notification that we had been awarded the grant,” she shared. “My blood pressure increased to an unhealthy level when I saw the email because we had actually already been denied once and this was my second attempt. It was such a flood of relief when I opened it and saw the digital confetti.

“We have set really big goals for the museum, and the first thing that went through my mind was, ‘It is really happening. We can do this. We are actually going to accomplish things that once seemed impossible.’”

Watson said the Copeland African American Museum’s No. 1 goal with Google Ad Grants is to introduce more people to its collection and its story.

“We hear this all the time: ‘I had no idea you were here,’” she noted. “The Copeland African American Museum should not be a ‘hidden gem.’ It’s too impactful, and the contributions and triumphs represented by the artifacts and people in the museum are too important. This grant will help us achieve greater awareness, which will lead to higher numbers of visitors, which will lead to greater understanding and appreciation for the determination, resiliency, and contributions of the Black community.”

“We really want school, church, and civic groups to think of us first when they’re planning trips,” she added. “We want to use these funds to become the first place teachers think of when they’re planning a field trip for their students.”

Watson said she plans to utilize the Copeland African American Museum’s Google Ad Grants award as an experiential learning tool for VSU students serving as academic interns, graduate assistants, or student assistants in the museum. This includes everything from designing the digital ads to creating and managing campaigns to managing the grant funds.

In 2016 Roy and Cheryl Copeland gifted their entire African American memorabilia collection to VSU’s Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration. A few years later that gift inspired the creation of the Copeland African American Museum, a destination for anyone seeking inspiration, knowledge, a change of perspective, and food for conversation.

“The Copeland African American Museum is a cultural destination that both respects the past and transforms the way we see the future,” shared Ashley Braswell, development director for the Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration. “It is just one way our university is building bridges, bringing attention to diversity and inclusion, and shining a light on African American tribulations and triumph.”

The Copeland African American Museum first opened its doors in January 2020. Today it continues to welcome visitors from diverse backgrounds and perspectives who are excited to see the African American memorabilia on display, to share ideas and experiences, and to be inspired to learn more about why African American history matters to everyone.

It is a dream come true for the Copelands, who have spent the past 30-plus years building a legacy of encouraging people of all ages and all ethnicities to examine, explore, and analyze the innovative, creative, and intelligent contributions of African Americans throughout history — and to remember, recognize, and celebrate those contributions all year along.

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 change from time to time, encouraging guests of all ages to return to the museum again and again for a fresh learning experience. The next update will likely occur in late summer or early fall following a renovation and expansion project that will double the size of the museum and create an interactive learning and empowering space for young visitors.

The Copeland African American Museum is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fridays. Group tours may be scheduled by sending an email to caammuseum@valdosta.edu or by calling (229) 245-2448. Parking passes may be obtained via email with advance notification. Admission is free of charge.

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

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