James “Jack” Hadley, a native of Thomasville, was born out at Pebble Hill Plantation in Thomas County in 1936 to the late Dennis and Rosetta James Hadley, the parents of 15 children. He graduated from Douglass High School in June 1956 and enlisted in the United States Air Force where he served his country for twenty‑eight years and retired in 1984. Jack also was employed with the United States Postal Service as a City Letter Carrier for twelve years and retired on April 1, 1997. In his spare time, he is an avid collector and curator of Black History Memorabilia. His collection traces Black American’s history from preslavery to the present. This exhibit encompasses a broad spectrum of the Black struggle and existence in America, and Black contribution in helping to build and shape America.
It was during a tour of military duty in Spain in 1968 that Jack began his collection by saving newspaper articles from the European Stars and Stripes Newspaper on the assassination of DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
The collection grew in 1979 to include articles researched from old Ebony, Jet magazines and books on Black American Achievers. This research began as a result of little recognition or interest was being given to Black History Week at Wiesbaden Military Dependent High School in Germany, where Jack’s son, Jim Hadley attended. His son came home from school and questioned his father about the schools lack of interest in Black History Week. It was Jim’s idea that really started his father’s collections of Black Memorabilia. As a result of Jack and his son’s compilation of the memorabilia, and with the help of other military personnel, the first Black History Exhibit was held at Lindsey Air Station in Wiesbaden , Germany and also at his son’s high school. Jack continued throughout his military career to establish Black History Exhibits at other military bases where he was stationed.
Today, he has obtained over 4669 pieces of artifacts; i.e. old news clippings, prints, pictures, paintings, posters, books and magazines of Black America Achiever’s historical accomplishments to include Thomasville/Thomas County’s Black Achievers. His most recent collectible artifact donated by a friend, Colonel Nathan Thomas, is a 14-inch bronze status of a Buffalo Soldier created by nationally acclaimed sculptor Eddie Dixon of Lubbock, Texas. It is a replica of the 14-foot statue, The National Buffalo Soldiers Monument that Dixon created to stand at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 1992. In 1993, the organization was gifted with a set of SLAVE LEG IRONS SHACKLE, -1847. His material focuses in several areas: i.e. civil rights, politics, sports, poets/writers, military, slavery, Blacks living and working on Plantations, Black Women, and Black accomplishments. He is always looking for old pictures dated back to the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, to include photos on slavery and other pictures/posters on our First Black Achievers.