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On the outside walls of the museum at 3427 Sealy Street are portraits of some prominent black Galvestonians, painted by artist E. Herron. The historic center opened its doors in 2003 through the efforts of James Josey, who grew up on the island.

The historical figures include Jack Johnson, who in 1908 became the first black heavyweight boxing champion; Annie Mae Charles, the Galveston Police Department's first black female officer; and Doug Matthews, who became the first black city manager in Texas when he held the job in Galveston.