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Community leader calls for new historic marker in Albany

Rev. Henry Mathis is asking local government to consider putting a historical marker at the site of the old jail. / Mary Green

After two years of honoring “The Walk” on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Rev. Henry Mathis believes Albanians know more about their city’s history.

“There are some adults that did not know. There are some people who are native Albanians that did not know,” he said.

But Mathis hopes there can be a way for residents to learn year-round.

Shiloh Baptist Church has a historical marker outside it, describing it as the start of the Albany Civil Rights Movement, and there’s another marker at the corner of Jackson and Highland.

But when you walk a few blocks to the site of the old jail on Pine Avenue, there’s nothing to be found that acknowledges the location’s history.

In fact, Mathis said a black-and-white photo at Albany Towers is the only display he’s seen about the jail.

“Totally different than what it is today,” he said.

That’s why he wants to put a historical marker where the jail used to be, outside the current Government Center, and he received support from Dougherty County Commissioners on Monday.

“It seems like something we should look at doing,” Commissioner Gloria Gaines said at the meeting.

Mathis believes the city can gain even more than educated residents.

“Albany being included in all these national tours that goes around us, but we want to bring the people into Albany…then there’s the potential for us to create some economic stimulus as well as economic development,” he said.

At the very least, it recognizes who and what was once at that site.

“It was critical history, and it’s good for the soul, and it’s good for the knowledge of people, not only of my generation and generations ahead of me, but the generation that will come behind us,” Mathis said.

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