Green McAdoo plans ‘blowout’ for traditional Black holiday The Mission

Adam Velk wants to make a difference.



The decision to make a difference has been made.

Adam Velk wants people to know that.

As the director of the Green McAdoo Museum and Cultural Center — hired in January — that challenge, at first, seemed … challenging?

“We were coming off the pandemic and everything was shut down, but I was prepared to use any and all guidelines from the CDC to promote Green McAdoo,” he said.

An Illinois native, Velk brings a sort of Midwestern stubbornness to his job. A “doggedness” if you will.

“People may come up here for their first visit for an event we’re having and they may not come inside. They may come up just for the evnt,” he said.

“And they may come back for another event, and by then their curiosity has got them … But they still may not go into the museum,” he said with a chuckle.

“But the third time they come here for an event, that curiosity will get the better of them and they will tour the museum and start the process of learning about the Clinton 12.”

Velk is an optimist.

He is also a realist.

What does a little museum in Clinton, Tennessee, sitting on “The Hill” has to offer?

For Adam Velk, it offers a whole new way to look at our history.

See, when Velk first toured the Green McAdoo Museum and Cultural Center after he was hired he saw things differently.

He didn’t see a time of hatred and racism, or neighbor vs. neighbor, of outside agitators and talk of lynchings and all the other jargon associated with the South in the 1950s.

He saw courage.

“Those kids, those 12 students,” he starts. “They were heroes.”

“The school board members were heroes. Rev. Paul Turner giving that sermon, and then taking the beating he did … They were heroes … This was the most important moment in the history of education in the United States.

“I se the best that man has to offer. I see the heroes.”

Yes, there were other stories about desegregation in school districts in the south.

“Every school district in the south has a story,” he said. “They all do. It was a time of change and Clinton took the lead.”

He included Oak Ridge’s desegregation.

“I don’t want to take away from anyone’s story. Oak Ridge’s was federally mandated because it was considered a federal facility and I certainly don’t want to take away from that,” he said.

In Clinton desegregation happened because publicly elected local officials followed the law.

“That’s different,” Velk said. “That changed a lot of things.”