By Kathy L. Collins
In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and Black History Month, the Bruton Memorial Library, located at 302 McLendon St. in downtown historic Plant City, is partnering with the Plant City Bing Rooming House Museum, located at 205 Allen St. in Plant City, for its January art exhibit. The exhibit will feature a collection of artifacts and memorabilia from the Bing Rooming House Museum.
According to William Thomas, Jr., volunteer president of the Improvement League of Plant City, “The exhibit consists of a photo gallery of events and individuals as well as artifacts from the Bing House Museum from a time when it operated as a hotel from 1922 through 1965.”
Specifically, there will be photographs of E.L. Bing, Jr., a former principal and the first black to serve as assistant superintendent of Hillsborough County Schools. He also served as a county commissioner in the 1980s. Bing was the planner and developer of the desegregation plan for Hillsborough County. His parents built and operated the Bing Rooming House.
There will also be photographs from the Negro League Baseball which had roots in Plant City. Photographs will show surviving player, Terry Thomas, Sr., and photos from a baseball event known as Easter Monday which was played at Marie B. Ellis Park.
Photographs from Marshall High School will show the band marching in the Florida Strawberry Festival, Homecoming and more. In addition, there will be photographs from Midway Academy, which operated on the site of Lincoln IB Elementary School.
In addition to photographs, there will be an assortment of artifacts such as the original deed and tax documents on the Bing Rooming House.
Plant City has a wonderful legacy and has traditionally celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday with a festival. This year, it will be held from Friday, January 8 through Sunday, January 17. Thomas said, “As we begin the year 2016, the month of January presents an opportunity for the citizens of Plant City to showcase their diversity.”
For more information, visit www.plantcitygov.com/library, www.plantcitybinghouse.com and www.plantcitymlkfestival.com.