The John J. Wright Educational & Cultural Center Museum is currently closed to the public.
The John J. Wright Museum, located within the John J. Wright Educational & Cultural Center, adheres to the directives of the Spotsylvania County School District and the Virginia Department of Education. We will continue to follow the guidelines put before us.
Please visit the website as well as our Facebook page for updates. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to seeing you soon. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
7565 Courthouse Rd.
Spotsylvania, VA 22551
540-582-7583, ext. 5545
"For a People had a Mind to Work":
A Century of African American Education in Spotsylvania County
In 1905, members of black churches in Spotsylvania collected $1.25 to start the first school for their children. The call came from teacher John J. Wright, who thought the county’s black youth deserved better education. A two-story school building came into being fifteen years later. After it burned down in 1941, a larger and sturdier structure John J. Wright Consolidated School replaced it. Today, the building still stands serving students of all races and backgrounds.
In Spotsylvania, like everywhere else, African Americans’ quest for education was not easy. Against prejudice and discrimination, locals fought with persistence and resilience. Their hard-earned nickels and dimes bought land and bricks, paid off bank loans, and helped with teacher salaries. Belief in education’s power to improve lives drove the local African American community to establish the first black secondary school in the county, uphold its subsequent integration in 1968, and since then support education for all youth in Spotsylvania.
The photographs above represent the museum's permanent exhibition developed by students enrolled in the Museum Exhibitions course at University of Mary Washington, Spring Semester, 2019 with the generous support of Virginia Humanities.
History Rooted in Our Community
John J. Wright
The late Mr. J.J. Wright was born on the Blanton Farm in the year of 1863, at Massaponax, Virginia. There with his parents, brothers and sisters, he grew and waxed strong for the cause he was destined to undertake.
He attended the public school in his neighborhood. At an early age he showed an unusual intellectual ability and soon conceived the idea that his race would never be recognized except through the channels of education. So he resolved that he must first prepare to help foster this movement.
His parents, just out from slavery were unable to furnish him the means whereby his education might be obtained. However, he was one youth who resolved “That I can but perish if I go, I am resolved to try.’ With such determination in mind, he worked and studied, and studied and worked, until he completed the prescribed course of study at Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute, now Virginia State College, in 1894. This course he completed with honors.
He returned home after his graduation ready for service. He was appointed to teach at the same school in his community that he attended when he was a mere lad. He was the first teacher of color to teach at the school. He taught in this school for twenty-one years.
Soon after finishing school he married Miss Jennie Garnett, a schoolmate of his school days. To this union, one child was born, Jennie Wright Boyer; the mother making the supreme sacrifice that the baby may live to cherish the father and serve humanity. After a few years, he met and married Miss Cora Jackson, who toiled beside him with every good effort of life.
The late Professor J. J. Wright’s strongest point was neither his physical nor mental fitness, though he possessed them to the highest degree. The factor which set him more from the masses of men was his moral integrity, that quality which certainly all leaders of men should possess.
He was always a man of pure ideas and ideals, a model of manly virtue and noble strength and lived above moral reproach. His family knew this and loved him; his community knew this and praised him; his country knew this and followed him.
-Mrs. Sadie Coates Combs and Miss Maude L. Burke, 1937
For a People had a Mind to Work:
the Beginning of a Legacy
The museum recently opened the Thomas Lewis exhibition. Unfortunately, due to the COVID19 pandemic, the museum has temporarily closed. But all is not lost! The museum staff photographed Mr. Lewis’ collection and posted some of the items here. Grab a snack and take your time looking at these unique finds. Who knows, maybe the items will bring back memories from your childhood or spark a lesson for homeschooling.
John J. Wright School
"Representatives from local African American churches organized the Spotsylvania Sunday School Union in 1905 to secure a secondary school for black children. The Union, led by educator John J. Wright, purchased 158.5 acres here in 1910 and later deeded 20 acres to the county. The Snell Training School, built by Alfred Fairchild, opened here in 1913 and was for decades the county’s only public high school for black students. Renamed for John J. Wright in 1940, it burned in 1941 and was rebuilt in 1952. The building became a middle school in 1968 after desegregation was completed. In 2008, after a major renovation, the building was designated the John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center."
John J. Wright Day
The Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors in August of 2019 declared by proclamation that November 18, 2019, and each November 18th thereafter as John J. Wright Day.
Board of Supervisors Chairman, Dr. Paul Trampe,
presented the proclamation to
John J. Wright Museum Board
Vice-President Roger Braxton on August 13, 2019.
"Brethren, let's not come to words of misunderstanding. The Cause for which we stand is too great." John J. Wright
The museum hosts its own events and sponsors others for local
civic organizations throughout the year.
A calendar of the Museum's events along with detailed information can be found here.
See the calendar below for events sponsored by the museum.
Spotsylvania County is rich in African American history! When you click on the button below, you will be taken to the county's website which shares links to various organizations within the county dedicated to our great history!
History comes in many forms and is discovered in many ways. Sometimes the best source of true history is a good biography. Other times, we must dig deep to get to the underlying stories long forgotten.