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Mosley Exhibit Becomes Permanent at the Tubman Museum in Macon

by Eugene S. Mosley
Son of Thomas Mosley

With great anticipation, I flew into Macon, Ga., from a small town outside of Philadelphia, Pa. called Sicklerville, NJ. This would be the week that my dad, Mr. Thomas Mosley, Frank Johnson and other influential people from in and around Macon, Ga., would become a permanent exhibit inside the Tubman Museum in Macon, Ga. This day, September 10, 2017, between 2:30 and 4:00 pm, another chapter would be added to the legacy of the Tubman in telling stories of Macon,

In 2016, shortly after my father had passed, I felt that Macon, Ga., in particular, should have a more concrete way in which to continue the legacy in honor of his memory. After all, here was a great Civil Rights worker, a loving father and mentor to hundreds of people in Macon, and other cities as well. He had received hundreds of plaques, commendations, awards and certificates, but in addition, here was a man to be studied as one of our great American heroes and placed on various platforms for that purpose.

I had not completed my book I thought, - The Footprints of the Montford Point Marines-: A Narrative of the Racial Disparity in the United States Marine Corps- from 1942 through 1949, so a museum. Aha! That would be the next best starting point. So with that, I began a group effort after speaking with Jeff Bruce, Curator. After all, the purpose of the Tubman Museum is to educate visitors from diverse backgrounds and from around the world about the rich and diverse Art, History and Culture of the African American Communities.

My next consultations were with my wife Soonai and my sister Sondra Walker. After some initial ideas being considered, I also contacted Master Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Geeter, President of the Philadelphia Chapter #1, of the Montford Point Marine Association to let him know about our ideas and to get his advice and feedback and also my daughter Suhir and Aviator Pilot and Trainer son-in-law CWO- 3 Greg Bruce. Then there was Gunnery Sgt. Joshua Dixon, President of Chapter 35, Warner Robins/ Macon, Georgia chapter of the MPMA and a confidant of my dad for some years and friend of the family, and who also accompanied me in a meeting with Jeff at the Museum shortly thereafter.

My next point of contact was the Monument Director for the recent $2, 000,000.00 National Montford Point Marines Memorial at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune- Chief Warrant Officer 5, Houston Shinal. It was through his encouragement, skills and direction that I was able to break down in a time frame and in a chronological order the majority of my dad’s achievements and accomplishments to be submitted to the Tubman or any museum. CWO5 Shinal, at the time, was also the Curator and Director of the Montford Point Marines Museum at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. This is the museum that houses the articles, photos and other items of the men and camp during its boot camp years.

In July of 2016 Sondra and I went to visit the hallowed grounds of the Montford Point Marines in Jacksonville, N.C., and to witness the dedication of the Montford Point Memorial. It was here that I met Houston Shinal and briefed him on the upcoming event. He agreed to assist us. While there, Sondra and I also had the privilege and pleasure to visit this outstanding Montford Point Marines Museum.
I had since spoken with Jeff on many occasions, regarding the upcoming exhibit at the Tubman Museum. There had been many changes including the time frame that we had originally spoken of. Also, initially I did not think there would be as many highlights on the various people as it ended up being, and we, my team, had originally prepared to have a more concentrated highlight on fewer people. The initial slot had been February 2017, and now we were fast approaching the fall of the year and hoping that the idea would take place at all this year.

The central theme of the upcoming exhibit was to focus on local people that had accomplished works or had been a part of something that has had a national or even an international impact on the world. Why certainly Thomas Mosley and Frank Johnson would fill that bill with the Congressional Gold Medals they had received from Congress and the President of the United States on June 27, 2012 in a special ceremony at the Nation’s Capital. It is the highest civilian honor anyone can receive.

These two men were Marines that served in WWII and trained at the segregated camp called Montford Point in Jacksonville, N.C. They endured the harshest of training and some of the worst physical and mentally humiliating beatings possible. At that time these Montford Pointers, as they were sometimes called, trained in strictly segregated units 10 miles adjacent to Camp Lejeune, where they were not allowed onto unless accompanied by a white officer.

While the White Marines were able to enjoy hunting, fishing, sail-boating, golfing or maybe a movie in one of the eight theaters at Camp Lejeune, for the Montford Pointers, it was strictly learn all that you can in the shortest time possible and get ready to ship out, no ifs, ands or butts. None of that frivolous stuff about going Ball room dancing at Marston Pavilion like their counterpart white Marines and their families. You may have gone to the one theater at Montford Point once or twice. There was certainly no need to invite your family down for the weekend, as the white Marines were able to do, to be entertained by a big band or maybe even Louis Armstrong.

Thomas Mosley was in the 5th Marine Division, 5th Ammunition Company and in the 365th Platoon. He was the "Guidon Bearer" of his Platoon and an Ammunition Specialist. These Montford Pointers were later referred to as the "Giants that walked the earth", and also the "Chosen Few." These men were Patriots of the highest order that served gallantly in the United States Marine Corps. After returning to civilian life both Frank Johnson and Thomas Mosley had long term impacts in the Federal workplace and also within the communities they were a part of and beyond.

However, while at MPC and also in the Asiatic South Pacific, these men played a major and extremely pivotal role in the overall outcome of WWII itself. While hated and despised, it became the duties of these men to provide the missing segment, within the logistics system, of supplies (ammunition, gasoline, kerosene etc.) on a full time basis. No matter what the cost or payout, including their lives, they had to retrieve, load and unload ships, over the waters, and haul ammunition through the razor sharp coral and boobie traps, to deliver them into the hands of the front line marines throughout the islands of the South Pacific.

There were over 13,000 Black men that served overseas from Montford Point during WWII. During that time they served in every major battle in the South Pacific and closed the broken link in the chain that existed in the United States Marine Corps. We must learn and never forget that they served in places like Eniwetok, Kwajalein Atoll, Roi Namur, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Peleliu, Saipan and the likes.

The skies had grown increasingly cloudy that afternoon as Hurricane Irma was making her way north while continuing to pound portions of Florida; however, it did not seem to deter the many people that were coming through the doors of the Tubman. As a matter of fact, as I was parking on Cherry St., directly in front of the Tubman, my daughter Suhir and her husband CWO3 Greg Bruce were also parking. With them was my beautiful granddaughter DeAsia, home from College that weekend. They had driven from outside of Atlanta to be a part of these historic moments. Many other people were bringing in the sunshine with their smiles as well. There was Mrs. Iola Kendall and her husband Larry. These were very longtime friends of mine and my family.
Not to be overlooked was the massive structure and the impression of the Tubman façade while walking towards the entry. It has a very unique appearance and gives the impression that the interior is going to be as unique as well. True enough, when you enter the Museum it is bright, rich and cheerful with an exquisite rotunda of several stories high. Light pours in from above and all around. It is a colossal 49,000 square feet and can also be used to facilitate other events such as traveling exhibits as well as stored inventory exhibits. It certainly is a magnificent structure.

I looked around again and there was my sister Sondra, looking lovely as usual and her daughter Jade Walker, both glowing with smiles. Also, dozens of other people graced the room, as well as my other daughter, Hannan, and my sweet granddaughter DeKayla.
Wanting to see some other aspects while at the Museum my Granddaughter DeAsia and I went to the second floor and were immediately struck by a wall of canvas paintings that turned out to be 68 inches high by 55 five feet long. Each panel seemed to have thirty or forty portraits on each. As it were, this magnificent piece of artwork was commissioned to Wilfred Stroud, a native of Macon, Ga., in 1988, and was entitled From Africa to America. We continued to peruse, looking at some magnificent inventions, artifacts and accomplishments by people of African descent.

Now looking across the circular corridor, I could see my daughter Suhir engaged in conversation with Dr. Thelma Dillard. Both have these brilliant smiles that can light up any room or event and they were both beaming. Dr. Dillard has been a friend and supporter of my dad for many years, and vice versa, and she makes me aware of that fact each time I see her. This day she highlighted a hand-dyed narrative quilt to Suhir and I, embossed with her photograph, among others, that had been transferred onto a quilt by Wini "Akissi" McQueen, an American quilter based in Macon, Georgia. Wini uses a special technique and has 125 extremely unique ‘quilts in the rotunda depicting the lives of women that date back to the 1800's.

Electricity was abuzz in the air as people mingled and talked. While talking to Dr. Dillard, she informed me that there was no electric power at both her and her daughter's home. With the ramification of all of that, she stayed the entire affair. Sondra's electric was off at her house as well for three days.

The ceremony was now about to begin. Dr. Andy Ambrose, Director of the Tubman, began the opening ceremonies with profound enthusiasm, and the direction that is planned for the upcoming future of the museum, and then there was Jeffrey, who also followed up on some other highlights of the museum. He then introduced Mr. Ethiel Garlington, Executive Director of 'Historic Macon Foundation,' (HMF), who articulated about the partnership between the Tubman and the 'Historic Macon Foundation'.

After absorbing the profound information regarding the direction of the Museum and the purpose of today's event, which was entitled "Untold Stories: Macon's African American History" -- featuring archival images, documents, historical artifacts, and works of art that have had a major impact on Macon's African American community and in some cases, the world. We were now directed to enter the gallery that we had waited for months to see.

Upon entering the room, the first exhibit that I observed, which was nearest the entry, was that of Mr. Rodney M. Davis. Rodney M. Davis was born April 7, 1942, in Macon, Georgia, and graduated from Peter G. Appling High School on May 29, 1961.

Shortly after graduation, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on August 31, 1961 and reported for recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina. He was then transferred to Camp Lejeune, N.C. for infantry training. Upon several promotions he was later transferred to London, England for a three year tour as Guard with the United States Marine Detachment, Naval Activities where on January 1, 1966, he was promoted to Corporal, and later that year, December 1, 1966, he was promoted to Sergeant.

In August 1967, after having been ordered to the Republic of Vietnam, as a Platoon Guide with Company "B", First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division and while operating with his division, they were attacked by a large force of North Vietnamese. This force was bombarding them with everything they had, including mortars, heavy duty and small arms fire. Sgt. Davis went from man to man while in the trenches to encourage them to continue on, when a grenade was thrown into the trenches his men were fighting from. Without hesitation Sgt. Davis threw himself onto the grenade to shield his men from the blast and in doing so, gave "the last full measure of devotion," words articulated by Dr. Barry Black, Chaplain of the Senate, in his invocation for the Montford Point Marines receiving the Congressional Gold Medal before Congress on June 27, 2012, while in their battles in WWII.

Next, I remember taking a deep breath as I saw a very profound photograph of Mr. Thomas Mosley-my Dad-as I recall so well, with his beautiful face and smile and in his finest blazer and cover (military hat), glistening and gleaming with his weighty ribbons and medal, and his well-earned Congressional Gold Medal. In a Museum I thought! Very fitting, I reasoned, for a man of this stature to be in a Museum. And I am very thankful that he was recognized enough to be accepted into the Tubman Museum. I also think that more information is needed to accompany his profile so that people can see a much more detailed configuration of who he is.

There was representation by the Montford Point Marine Association (MPMA), Chapter #35, Warner Robins/ Macon, with Mr. Joshua Dixon, President, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy the event and was elated that the weather held out. Another MPMA member Mr.Tony C. Price, who recently arrived back from an extended tour in West Africa including Senegal and Gambia, was also euphoric about the event. I’d like to once again thank Joshua Dixon and the MPMA members who have always been supportive and at the ready for my dad and family.

Mr. Harold Michael Harvey, Esq. a prolific writer and representative of Frank Johnson and Family, was on hand and in fact, happens to have copies of his earlier books in the Tubman Book store "Justice In The Round," was certainly proud of this moment. Others present were NAACP President Gwenette Westbrooks, Cousin Virginia Saunders and Tim Jackson, brother of the late football star Isaac Jackson from Central High school. Another very good friend from my childhood and also a Representative from Rev. Cabiness and the friends and family at New Hope Baptist Church was Joan Burney, a very good supporter of Mr. Mosley.

I had also expected another champion of Macon to be in the audience, but with the threat of unsettling weather, I did not see her if she were there. That would be Carrie Dumas, author of Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays -- A Pictorial life and Times. I spoke with her a few weeks prior to the event and was certainly looking forward to seeing her.

There were so many highlights at the exhibition, but so little time here to cover them all which is why people should become members of the Museum to learn more in the way of African American History. However, one other exiting exhibit that I was able to learn about in much more detail was that of Pearl Jackson Stephens. Pearl Stephens is the grandmother of Mrs. Maggie Cole who is the wife of Mr. William C. Cole- my lifelong friends. She was the founder of Pearl Stephens School in Houston County. Using her extreme wisdom, she negotiated 1-1/2 acres of land to the Houston County Board of Education in exchange for teachers, books and the construction of a school for Negro children in the 1940's. Her foundation has continued to grow with her family Maggie Cole and assisted with her grandson Jerome Stephens -who was also at the affair.

While engaged in conversations with various people regarding the exhibits, I met one person who was extremely happy to see that stories were being exposed in this manner. Barbara Clowers, a former Morris Brown Graduate and a very lively, well- spoken person who was born in Macon and graduated from the last high school class of Ballard High School in 1949, shared some very interesting stories with me regarding her and her late husband’s lives. Her late husband, Frank Clowers, graduated from Ballard in 1947, went to what was then called West Virginia State College, now called West Virginia State University.

WVSU has a long history beginning in 1891, and was the first of six historically black colleges to be authorized by the Civil Aeronautics Authority to establish an aviation program. Frank Clowers enrolled in the RO TC program and became a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army in the Korean conflict. Serving as a Forward Observer during his time he was discharged in 1953 as a Captain. Upon return to Macon, he could only get a job in the warehouse at Robins Air Force Base. Later he and Barbara transferred to Travis A.F.B. where he worked as an Engineer. While at WRAFB, he was President of the local NAACP. Mrs. Clowers would love to see his complete story in print one day and has other important facts as well.

Mr. Frank Clowers is buried in a plot adjacent to Sgt. Rodney M. Davis in Linwood Cemetery.

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