*A release from Valdosta State University
Dr. Cheryl L. Copeland, daughter of Mrs. Claudette Smith, of Folkston, and the late Albert Smith, and her husband, Roy W. Copeland, were recently honored with the opening of the Copeland African American Museum at Valdosta State University. Cheryl is a 1980 graduate of Charlton County High School.
In 1989, Roy informed Cheryl he did not wish to select a gift for Christmas. She then surprised him. For Christmas of that year, she presented him with a seasonally wrapped box which contained a set of autographed Muhammad Ali boxing gloves. This expression of love led to a labor of love. Each Christmas forward, Cheryl selected a piece of memorabilia for Roy. He then parlayed those gifts into a larger collection. The Copelands continued collecting African American memorabilia by attending live auctions and participating in various online auctions. The collection has been featured at various universities (including UGA Law School) during Black History Month. The collection includes letters of Martin Luther King, Jr., Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, and many others.
After years of collecting, the Copelands began donating their African American artifacts to the Langdale College of Business at Valdosta State University in 2017. The transference of the collection will continue through 2021 with the Copelands donating approximately 20 percent of the collection each year. To date, the VSU Archive has received eight deliveries of approximately 60 items. The items are inventoried, photographed, measured, and stored in the archives vault. Dean L. Wayne Plumly, VSU College of Business and Debra S. Davis, CA, Director, Professor Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections planned and designed the layout of the Museum and coordinated the hanging of the items and installation of the 72-inch touch screen video which shows clips of important historical events and figures.
The Museum held a soft opening on Friday, November 1, 2019. Malcolm Mitchell formally of Super Bowl winning New England Patriots delivered the keynote address. Among those in attendance were VSU President Dr. Richard Carvajal and his wife Cheryl, the Provost and Mrs. Bob Smith and many local public officials and dignitaries. The Museum will officially open in about two months.
For more information, contact Mrs. Ashley Braswell at Valdosta State University, Langdale College of Business, 1500 North Patterson Street, Valdosta, GA 31698.