In March of this year Wane A. Hailes, president, and publisher of the Courier Eco Latino newspaper, became the owner and acting director of the non-profit Columbus Black History Museum & Archives.
“I was humbled when asked by Johnnie if I would take over the museum. We have been friends for years and I have always respected his passion, commitment and sincerity toward preserving our history and the contributions of African Americans to Columbus, Phenix City and Ft. Benning.
Ironically one of the articles in my very first publication, twelve years ago, was of the grand opening of the museum on Hamilton Rd.”
Responding to the recent rumors of misappropriation of funds, Hailes had this to say, “What was reported as a “funding misappropriation dispute” was actually just a misunderstanding between Mr. Warner and Mr. Gillarm. After taking ownership of the museum I met with Mr. Gillarm and he turned over all of the funds associated with the museum without hesitation.”
When Hailes took over the museum it had been closed down for several weeks.
“Our previous location, 315 8th St. was recently found to be infested with termites. Fortunately Johnnie was able to remove all of the artifacts in time so there was no damage.”
When asked what his plans were for the museum and if he had acquired a new location he shared his vision.
“I am well aware that I have been entrusted with a task of expanding on the vision of someone who, for more than a decade, gave his blood, sweat, tears and soul as a labor of love for his people. Although we do have an internal deadline when we would like to be up and running again we would rather not be hurried in our effort to provide this community with a museum we all can be proud of.”
“The Columbus Black History Museum & Archives is poised and ready to step up to the next level, says Hailes. I have a vision that we become a museum and educational resource of local stature. The two elements that will take the Columbus Black History Museum & Archives to this next level include the completion of a spacious new museum and the development of strategic partnerships with colleges, school systems, and other cultural and educational organizations that will expand the museums outreach and impact.”