MidSouth woman donates items to new African American history museum

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Hattye Yarbrough calls her sitting room organized chaos.

She's been keeping pictures, magazines, and pieces of black culture since she was a young girl.

"I promised myself that there would never be a negro child, we were then colored children, that would grow up around me and not know that we had contributed to every bit of history in America."

Before she spent decades teaching and coaching students in Covington and surrounding counties, she worked at Camp Tyson outside Paris, Tennessee.

It was the 1930s and that's where she met many black soldiers and started her scrapbook.

"I would see soldiers on troop trains, those who came to our churches in Paris, those who visited in our homes or wherever."

She listened to their stories and collected information, things like where they were from and where they served.

For years, the scrapbook was hidden in Mrs. Yarbrough's attic.

Now, many of the pictures and articles in it are in Washington, D.C. at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

"I did not only send them my WWII memorabilia, I sent that picture of Vernon Actso founder. i sent those kind of things i had laminated copies of things form personalities from memphis that contributed to history i just sent worlds of material."

And they kept everything she sent.

"How pleased are you that you were able to save and keep that history and now it's going to be shared? 'Thankful, most thankful. I have a lived a lifetime wanting people to know that we are somebody too.'"

In September, Mrs. Yarbrough made the trip to our nation's Capitol for the dedication and opening of the museum.

"It was like, 'Aam I dreaming, this or is this real?"

At 95 years young, Mrs. Yarbrough still remembers why she started a career in education.

"Every child I taught, they walked tall and they would say 'If it had not been for Ms. Yarbrough, we would have missed knowing who we are.'"

Now, with the museum and thanks to contributors like Mrs. Yarbrough, everyone can know and appreciate our rich history and culture.

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