On May 9 the Beach Institute honored one for Savannah’s best remembered citizens and cultural preservationist: Westley Wallace Law. Law was a significant activist in the fight for Civil Rights serving as the president for the NAACP and community leader.
An advocate of nonviolence and the “passive resistance to segregation”, Law participated in many protests of segregated establishments in Savannah such as department stores on Broughton Street, Tybee Island and Grayson Stadium.
Law was also instrumental in the fight to preserve the Kings-Tisdell Cottage. The cottage was owned by Eugene and Sarah King, a black couple during the 1920’s, which was rare at the time. The King-Tisdell Cottage is the location for Savannah’s first Black Heritage Festival, which has happened annually for nearly 30 years.
Law furthered his preservation with the Beach Institute, which was the first public school opened for African Americans after the Civil War. The Beach institute holds traveling exhibits, permanent collections, lectures and performances that showcase African American art. In 2016, the cultural center was awarded the Governor’s Award for the Arts & Humanities of Georgia for their dedication African American art and history.
The Beach Institute will be displaying an exhibition that includes a series of photos that belonged to Law’s private collection. The exhibit display photographs taken of influential members in the African American community and some of Law’s family members. Some of the photographs were collected by him for safekeeping. The photos are from the everyday person dating back to the 1800s.