WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — Pastor Darrell Cummings has spent a lifetime preserving artifacts that tell the story of African Americans and their contributions to this country.
As a child, he was a newspaper carrier, delivering the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The day after Dr. Martin Luther King died, his mother advised him to save that newspaper.
It started a lifelong appreciation of history.
“I remember sitting at the kitchen table with her, and her trying to express how important it was to keep that newspaper and that memory in my heart,” Cummings recalled.
Now he has mementoes of famous people he has gotten to know.
He has African clothing crafted for everyone from kings to commoners.
And he has books telling the stories of Black people like Bass Reeves, the real Lone Ranger, on whom the TV show was based.
“He was a Texas Ranger and during his time, he caught more convicts than any of the other rangers,” Cummings said. “He traveled, had the silver bullet, the white horse and the Native American companion.”
But in 1950s Hollywood, the Lone Ranger was portrayed as a white man.
The pastor of the Bethlehem Apostolic Temple believes Black history needs to be remembered so it is not misinterpreted.
“Sadly, you might think it’s all about sports or it’s all about crime, or that our only history is slavery,” he said.
But then you wouldn’t know all the contributions of Black people to all people’s lives.
“The elevator was invented by a Black man,” he said. “The air conditioner was invented by a Black person. The furnace, invented by a Black person. The blood transfusion was invented by a Black doctor. The first heart surgery was done by a Black doctor.”
As he always likes to say, “It’s not just Black history. It’s American history.”