Ethnic Heritage Museum honored

The Ethnic Heritage Museum, 1129 S. Main St., has been recognized with an award of excellence by the Illinois Association of Museums(IAM) for its A Tribute to McKinley ‘Deacon’ Davis Jr. exhibit, which was displayed earlier this summer. The museum will be honored in an awards banquet Sept. 26 at DoubleTree Hotel and Suites in Skokie, Ill. David Ruffin, assistant curator of the Ethnic Heritage Museum, said he was excited about the achievement. “We are so proud to be getting this honor,” Ruffin said in a press release. “We wanted to honor one of Rockford’s outstanding community leaders, and we get honored for that effort.” Mary Turner, IAM executive director, wrote in an award letter to the museum: “Your museum did an excellent job pulling the community as well as the Harlem Globetrotters into this project, and it spoke directly to your mission. Based on the makeup of your audience for the event, it also encouraged cooperation and conversation between diverse ethnic groups in your community for which you should be honored.” Deacon Davis, who died in March at the age of 70, played for the Freeport Pretzels and was a Harlem Globetrotter from 1955 to 1957. He served as Rockford Park District recreation supervisor from 1961 to 1963 and as executive director of Rockford’s Booker T. Washington Center. In his collegiate career, Deacon Davis was named second team All-American and first team All Big Ten Conference in 1954 while a member of the Iowa Hawkeyes’ basketball team. At the July 22 opening of the museum’s tribute to Deacon Davis, family, friends and colleagues gathered to share stories and view a display of items from Deacon’s athletic, professional and family life. The group shouted in unison Davis’ motto: “I am somebody!” Alderman Victory Bell (D-5) announced on behalf of the City of Rockford that June 23 through July 31 would be recognized as Deacon Davis Month, and the Harlem Globetrotters presented Davis’ family with $1,000 to go toward the McKinley Davis Sr. Foundation scholarship fund.

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