Althemese Barnes honored with city park tribute

City of Tallahassee
City of Tallahassee(WCTV)
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 12:05 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The City of Tallahassee will be honoring Althemese Pemberton Barnes by dedicating a park in her name acknowledging her years of dedicated service preserving local history on September 20.

The community is welcomed to attend the celebration at the Smokey Hollow Commemoration. located at the corner of Franklin Boulevard and East Pensacola Street at 10 a.m.

Althemese Pemberton Barnes is a preeminent leader locally for the preservation and recognition of African American History. After 30 years of employment with the State of Florida, she founded the John Gilmore Riley Center and Museum in January 1996, which was the first community-based African American historic museum in Tallahassee. While formally retiring as the museum’s director in 2020, she continues to be active with it and currently serves as Executive Director Emeritus. Over the years, her work helped preserve local history and spaces including the Frenchtown Marker Trail; Hickory Hill, Munree and Greenwood Cemeteries; Cascades Heritage Trail and Civil Rights Wall; FAMU Way Historical Trail; and Smokey Hollow Commemoration.

Tallahassee mayor, Mayor John Dailey shares his admiration of Barnes.

“Althemese Pemberton Barnes is a true Tallahassee treasure,” Dailey said. “Her commitment to preserving Black history has taught our community so much and will profoundly impact generations to come. Naming this park in her honor, at the former site of one of Tallahassee’s most iconic neighborhoods, is a fitting tribute.”

Not limiting her impact to the Tallahassee city limits, Barnes organized the Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network, a professional museum association providing management training and consultation for African American and other museums doing significant programming focused on the history of the African diaspora in the state of Florida, in 1977.

To advance her mission, she also directed the researcg and publication of 28 books and documentaries based on historical research. To ensure future generations remained interested and engaged in history, she provided internship experiences for more than 70 graduate level students.

Barnes shares the importance of history’s effect on the present.

“To be entrusted with the stories of communities and ensure they are remembered is humbling, important work. Examining the past helps us understand the present and is a foundation of intelligence. I feel strongly that we must look back to move forward in a more positive way,” Barnes said. “Focus, tenacity and faith have been central to my journey.”

Her passionate work led to many honors, including being the 2009 Tallahassee Democrat Volunteer of the Year in the education category, being appointed in 2012 by President Obama to the Board of Directors of the Institute of Museum and Library Services and being the 2016 recipient of the Evelyn Fortune Bartlett Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Award.

Parking for the event will be available on-street, in the lot on the corner of Meridian and E. Pensacola streets and at the Riley House, 419 E. Jefferson Street. If you are unable to attend in person, a recording of the ceremony will be available the following day at here.