Celebrate Juneteenth at Bradley Academy

The members of the Board of Directors of Bradley Academy Museum & Cultural Center are sponsoring their 7th Annual Juneteenth Celebration Festival on Saturday, June 21, 2014. The event runs from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at 415 South Academy Street, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 37130, following the parade. The Juneteenth Parade will begin at Central Magnet School on East Main Street at 9:00 a.m.

The Juneteeth celebration includes a scavenger hunt for children to learn about the exhibits of the entire museum at no cost, a station for art classes, and various vendors from the city and the community. There will be elementary and high school students, as well as local artists, who will provide their creative expressions for the entertainment section. Enjoy the annual event with educational activities for all families, who will be attending the festival. If you need further information, please feel free to contact Juneteenth Celebration Coordinator Katie Wilson at the museum at 867-2633.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued on September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863, it had minimal immediate effect on most slaves’ day-to-day lives, particularly in Texas. On June 19, 1865 Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of the slaves. Juneteenth honors African-American freedom, while emphasizing education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some places a month, marked with celebrations, guest speakers, food, and fun. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing, self-assessment, self-improvement, and looking ahead towards a brighter future.

Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center is located at 415 South Academy Street, in Murfreesboro, TN. There you can sit in a 1917 classroom, smell the dust of the chalkboard and hear about President James K. Polk’s early life at Bradley Academy. Spend time in the permanent exhibits learning about Murfreesboro in the 1800’s, the legacy of African American education in our country, and the importance of the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War. Stroll the halls and view the latest exhibits by local artisans. Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Art Center offers special cultural events and educational programs throughout the year. Such as the history of the Colored Troops in the American Civil War, the study of Genealogy and more. So turn back the pages of history and see how much fun learning can be. Guided tours are available to groups of 20 or more for a small fee. Advance reservations are required for group tours.

Bradley Academy has the distinction of being the first school established in Rutherford County. The origin of Bradley Academy as an intuition of learning stems from the Congressional Land Grant Act of 1806. In response to this Act the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation establishing an academy in each of the Counties of Tennessee. It is important to remember that Rutherford County was founded only three years earlier. Recently discovered documents now place the planned opening of Bradley Academy as early as 1809; whereas, several existing documents in the past placed the opening in 1811.

The original Bradley Academy building was a small log cabin school near Stones River, near the site of Old Jefferson, the original county seat. The academy was located on land donated by John Bradley, a Revolutionary War officer; thus, the school name is derived from this benefactor. Bradley Academy soon established itself as a well know institution of learning in the Middle Tennessee community. James K. Polk and John Bell would become some of the early scholars to attend Bradley Academy during this time period. Both men would later be nominated by their respective parties for the presidency of the United States. James K. Polk was elected President of the United States in 1844. In the late 1820’s or early 1830’s, a brick Bradley Academy was built. The building hosted the classes of Union University while that institution’s facility was being constructed on Main Street in Murfreesboro Tennessee. Bradley served as a hospital during the smallpox epidemic of 1836 and again during the Battle of Stones River in 1862.

In 1884, Bradley Academy became the first institution in the county to offer formal educational instructions for African American students. At this time, Bradley Academy had three teachers and a total of 150 students in elementary grades. Years later Bradley would evolve to house both elementary and high school students. The success of Bradley’s academic, athletic and civic programs renewed African American participation in the education process, thus encouraging enrollment. Recognizing the need for more and better facilities for African American education, the local school board approved the construction of Holloway High School. When Holloway opened its doors in 1928, Bradley once again became an elementary school.
Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and closed all holidays. For questions or additional information, please contact Dr. Millicent Nelson, Chairperson, Bradley Academy Historical Association or another museum representative at (615) 867-2633 or e-mail bradleyahmc1@comcast.net.