I love the Beatles. It’s hard for me to believe that it might be possible someday for people to not know the names of John, Paul, Ringo and George.
But that could happen and that’s what might have happened to the musician J.W. “Blind” Boone (1864-1927) if the residents of Columbia and the city hadn’t saved the house at 10 N. Fourth St.
And you can take a peek at the inside of the home that took six long years to bring back from near demolition. From 5:30-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12 and Thursday, Feb. 14, you can view copies of portraits of 19 portrait reproductions of members of the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame. Those portrayed include Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, Maxine Moore Waters, a U.S. Representative, and Jesse Louis Jackson Jr.
The works were painted by John F. Dyess, who has created works for national firms such as the National Geographic Museum and the St. Louis Baseball Cardinals.
Frankly, the exhibit is a two-fer — an opportunity to see portraits of family civil rights celebrities and an opportunity to see the Boone house that has been meticulously restored to literally reflect the wealth of one of the richest men in Columbia at the time.
Boone’s accomplishments stand out because he succeeded against the odds. Boone was the offspring of a former slave and a Union bugler. His eyes were removed at six months old to save him from “brain fever.” Then as a youth, he was sent to a school for the blind, but at one point the headmaster decided that instead of providing the blind with a fair, equitable education, the students would be taught to make brooms.
Yet, Boone’s natural talents and hard work helped him overcome the many obstacles he faced. He learned to play and compose music, touring throughout the U.S. and Canada for much of the year from the 1900s until about 1924, only three years before his death.
And it’s home that saves Boone’s story. But his isn’t the only story we need to hear about our black history. For more information on our history, see this notice from the Columbia Missourian. It includes events such as a documentary on historically black colleges and universities, a lecture on how the enslaved undermined slavery and a local leadership panel discussion with Inclusive Impact Institute Director Nikki McGruder, First Ward City Councilman Clyde Ruffin and Stephens trustee Anita K. Parran.