African American Heritage House Founding member: Lula Briggs Galloway
Antique San Jose building becomes home to new African American heritage center.
Sunday, Nov. 23, 2008, three weeks after Barack Obama became president of the United States, San Jose brought some color to a house of its own: The African American Heritage House (AAHH). This 145-plus-year-old Italianate farmhouse Zanker House is now home to the AAHH, the site of community meetings, art exhibits, workshops, musical and cultural events, festivals, and theatrical presentations A showcase to educate our youth on the heritage of African Americans here in Silicon Valley.” The AAHH was the dream of Lula Briggs Galloway, former CEO of the National Association of Juneteenth Lineage, Inc. and founder of the Juneteenth Creative Cultural Center and Museum in Saginaw, Mich., which commemorated the emancipation of African American slaves. The AAHH is a memorial to Lula Briggs Galloway, a San Jose native who passed away just before the AAHH was dedicated.
African American Heritage House (408) 247-9038
History Park/History San Jose, 1650 Senter Rd.
San Jose (408) 287-2290 www.historysanjose.org
According to When it came to preserving black history, Lula Briggs Galloway pursued it with a passion.She brought black airmen from World War II, jazz musicians and artists to her Juneteenth Creative Cultural Center and Museum at North Fifth and Farwell in Saginaw.She took Juneteenth to Saginaw's streets in the 1990s, hosting festivals celebrating the day America's last slaves found out they were free. And in Washington, D.C., she convinced lawmakers in 1997 to make it a national independence day for blacks.
Galloway died Saturday in San Jose, Calif., after a long battle with lung cancer. She was in her early 60s."This lady accomplished more in her lifetime than a lot could in an eternity," said Eldora Plowden Davis of Saginaw, a friend Galloway always called "Miss Eldora."Davis was beside Galloway when the paralegal established the now-closed Juneteenth Creative Cultural Center and Museum in 2003 and erected a monument there in 2005 recognizing the spot as pop singer Stevie Wonder's birthplace.She wrote a book, "Juneteenth: Ring the Bell of Freedom," and was working on another about black history when she died, Davis said. Author Ed Taylor will finish it, she added."Miss Lula always had something going on," Davis said. "She was trying to redo black history books because she found so many inaccuracies."
Recent months brought hard times; her husband, Charles, died Sept. 19 in Detroit; Galloway, who had returned to her home state to recover, was too ill to travel to his bedside."She called me a month ago and said, 'Miss Eldora, I think I'm dying,'" Davis said. "I called her again this week, but she was too sick to talk. I said I loved her, and I heard people tell her what I said, so I know she knew it."Now they talk about her in the past tense, but there's nothing past tense about Lula. You just have to look around at all she did -- she worked so hard, against so many challenges -- and know that she still is."Galloway leaves a daughter, Kimberlyne, and granddaughter Hannah in Charlotte, N.C., and three stepdaughters, two stepsons and several grandchildren in California.