African American Studies Research Committee hosts exhibit

May 14, 2012

The Voorhees College African American Studies Research Committee will host an Elizabeth Evelyn Wright Exhibit and Legacy Recognition Program on Friday, May 18 at 7 p.m. at the Double Tree Hotel in Columbus, Ga.  

This event will culminate the first four years of research on the life and legacy of Voorhees’ founder, Elizabeth Evelyn Wright Menafee.  

Since 2008, Voorhees College Archivist Richard Reid has been extensively researching Voorhees’ founder. The exhibit will feature a collection of pictures, documents and letters centered on Elizabeth Evelyn Wright Menafee’s upbringings and her journey to establishing a school for African Americans.  

“It is important for the Voorhees family to know its history and the struggles that its founder endured in her effort to establish her school,” said Reid.  

“The exhibit will display items that will help us to become more familiar with our institution’s background and our founder’s journey.”  

Most recently, Reid completed the journey that Voorhees’ founder followed to establish the Denmark Industrial School, now Voorhees College.  

During this journey, Reid visited and walked through the known areas that she attempted to start a school for the purpose of educating black children in South Carolina.  

Menafee traveled into nine locations before she landed in Denmark. Those locations include Ruffin, Hampton, Fairfax, Ulmer, Ehrhardt and Govan. All of those locations had their own set of reasons and conditions that were not suitable for planting Menafee’s dreams.  

Menafee finally accomplished her goal of establishing a school for young men and women in Denmark, S.C. on April 14, 1897.  

As a part of the exhibit that Reid will host, the event will also include a Legacy Recognition Program, which will recognize the first class of graduates from Talbotton, Ga., the hometown of Voorhees’ founder.  

In 2008, Voorhees recruited its first group of students from Talbotton High School. Now, four years later, Shemika Jones, NaEisha Owens, Britney Smith and Brittany Horton will graduate from Voorhees.  

“I understand that our founder, Mrs. Elizabeth Evelyn Wright Menafee, worked hard to pave the way for young people like myself, and I feel that by being from Talbotton, it is also up to me, and my peers, to continue her legacy,” said Britney Smith, Miss Voorhees College 2011-2012.  

(Pictured above are Talbotton graduates (left to right) Brittany Horton, Shemika Jones, Britney Smith and NaEisha Owens.)