LAWRENCEVILLE – A group of dedicated volunteers is working to preserve the legacy of James Solomon Russell and Saint’s Paul College.
Vice Chairman Bobby Conner updated the members of the Brunswick County Board of Supervisors about the James Solomon Russell – Saint Paul’s College Museum and Archives, Inc. located at the Brunswick County Conference Center, across from Brown’s Funeral Service. While the museum is closed to the public because of the pandemic the work continues. The supervisors have been strong supporters of the JSR/SPC Museum and Archives from the very beginning.
Conner stated, “Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the James Solomon Russell – Saint Paul’s College Museum and Archives has had an active 18 months since our grand opening on August 10, 2019. We are appreciative of all the support we have received over the last year and look forward to a productive 2021. We are especially appreciative to you the Board of Supervisors, Dr. Charlette Woolridge, County Administrator; Leslie Weddington, Assistant County Administrator and county staff.”
The mission of the James Solomon Russell-Saint Paul’s College Museum and Archives is to collect, organize, preserve and promote access to its collection of archival records, books, printed materials, photographs, artifacts and other items pertaining to the life of James Solomon Russell and the history of James Solomon Russell High School and Saint Paul’s College for the use by researchers, students, professionals, alumni and the general public.
The report to the supervisors included information about the dedication of the Virginia Women’s Monument that includes two Brunswick County natives: Nellie Pratt Russell and Patti Buford. Several members of the Russell family were able to attend the opening held on Capitol Square in Richmond, Virginia on October 7, 2019.
The 2020 Wall of Fame Inductees are: Dr. Christine Mann Darden, Aerospace Engineer; Rev. Dr. Grady W. Powell, Religion/Civil Rights; Mrs. Nellie Pratt Russell, Educator/AKA Incorporator; Mr. Antwain Smith, Basketball Player/CIAA Hall of Fame and Dr. James Stith, Educator/Colonel – West Point Military Academy.
Conner said a Wall of Fame luncheon was planned for April 2020, however, that was postponed until August 2020, due to the COVID–19 pandemic. Because of the ongoing virus situation, the August event was postponed indefinitely. The museum plans to hold a 2020 and 2021 combined Wall of Fame Induction Luncheon sometime in the later part of 2021. A date will be announced after we understand better the COVID-19 situation going into 2021. Applications are currently being accepted for the 2021 Wall Fame Inductees.
Through the support of Delegate Roslyn Tyler and Senator Louise Lucas during the 2020 regular session of the Virginia General Assembly, the museum was able to secure $50,000 in the 2020-2021 Virginia State Budget, for use in the restoration and digitization of materials in the museum’s collection. The budget was signed by Governor Ralph Northam in November 2020. Senator Frank Ruff also supported those efforts. The museum board would like to thank, Senator Lucas, Delegate Tyler, Senator Ruff and other members of the General Assembly who helped secure this funding. Governor Northam also supported the effort and signed the budget bill into law in November 2020. The museum will begin the restoration projects in early 2021.
James Solomon Russell Day Resolution - During the 2020 regular session of the Virginia General Assembly, Delegate Roslyn Tyler and Senator Louise Lucas worked with the museum to introduce legislation creating James Solomon Russell day on March 28th of each year in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Showcase Donation - In February 2020, museum board member Dion Walker worked with Peebles Department Store in Emporia in securing the donation of a number of showcases and other items to be used to display artifacts in the museum. Supervisor Bernard Jones and Randy Allen helped museum volunteers move the cases from the store to the museum in March 2020.
Computer and Television Donation - In March 2020, the family of Jean McCarter, a resident of Brunswick County, who passed away in January of 2020, donated a 55-inch flat screen television, DVD player and Dell Computer with printer to the museum. The television will be used to show Saint Paul’s basketball and football games and graduations that will be converted from video tape to digital. The museum board appreciates the support of the McCarter family.
COVID-19 Cares Act - The museum, with the help of Board of Supervisors, Dr. Charlette Woolridge, County Administrator and Leslie Weddington, Assistant County Administrator, was able to purchase, through CARES Act funding, hand sanitation stations to be used at the museum to help protect volunteers and visitors from COVID-19.
Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail - In September 2020, the newly designed James Solomon Russell – Saint Paul’s College Civil Rights in Education Trail Marker was installed at the edge of the parking lot of the Brunswick County Conference Center. The marker is part of the trail that includes 10 counties and the city of Petersburg. As part of the marketing effort for the new sites added to the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail, the James Solomon Russell – Saint Paul’s College Museum and Archives and Brunswick County were mentioned in many news articles.
The Richmond Times Dispatch printed a story by Bill Lohmann that was also published in the Roanoke Times and several other newspapers. Virginia Capitol News Service at Virginia Commonwealth University also had a student write an article that was picked up by the AP Wire news service that was published across the country including Newsweek Magazine, the Dallas Times and Washington Times.
Financial Audit - In September 2020, the museum board of directors engaged the services of Robinson, Farmer and Cox to do an audit of the financial records for the museum to show accountability to our donors, supporters and for use when applying for grants during 2021. The Audit will be for the years 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Hosted Congressional Candidate Webb - In October 2020, the museum hosted Congressional Candidate Dr. B. Cameron Webb when he made a visit to the county. Webb was the Democratic candidate for the 5th District Congressional Seat.
Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax visits museum - In November 2020, the museum hosted a visit from Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax. The Lt. Governor was impressed with the amount of items in the collection and talked with museum board members about the digitization of records that are in the archives.
“Adventure in Faith” Republished - In January 2021, through financial support from the Dominion Energy and the Dominion Foundation, the museum republished James Solomon Russell’s Autobiography “Adventure in Faith”. The introduction to the reprinting was written by Xavier Kendrick Russell, the 16 year old great- great grandson of James Solomon Russell.
James Solomon Russell – Saint Paul’s College Museum and Archives, Inc. Board of Directors: James Grimstead, Chairman; Bobby Conner, Vice-Chairman; Teya Whitehead, Secretary; Regina Gordon, Treasurer; Sylvia Allen; Gloria Menyweather-Woods; Shirley Grimstead; Dr. Angela Parker; Larry D. Walker; Cleo Goodwyn; Barbara W. Malone; Rachelle Hawkins-Wesson; Nastelle Graves.
For more information about the museum call James Grimstead at (434) 848-3800 or Bobby Conner at (434) 917-0759. The museum has attained 501 3 © status. Donations may be made to P. O. Box 551, Lawrenceville, Virginia 23868. Check out www.jsrussell.org or www.spcmuseum.org.