From Serving the Country to Serving the Community

Lonnie Davis

Kyra Rogers
Davis stands outside one of the historical mounds

Lonnie Davis has always had a deep love of history and some of it came from his many visits to the Ocmulgee National Monument as a child. Now, Davis is the gatekeeper to a world of history and culture at the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park.

His official title is ‘Cultural Resource Specialist’ and he has been working at the museum for 17 years. He talks nonstop about his love of the park and said his favorite part of the museum is the vault where all of the artifacts are kept.

Davis’ face lit up when he touched a historical artifact or when he was explaining the migration of different tribes around the present day South. Before working at the museum, though, he was in the Army for 21 years. After serving in the Army, he says he felt that coming back to a place that he loved to work was a natural progression.

Davis has a deep connection with the Ocmulgee.

Despite his deep love for the park, he said it was the setting for one of the worst experiences of his life. Davis grew up in the South and said he experienced blatant racism as he was only able to go to Ocmulgee on Wednesdays and Sundays.

When his brother was killed in Vietnam, his parents, who also held a deep love for Ocmulgee, went to visit to mourn. His parents were not let into the park because of the fact that they couldn’t attend on certain days. Davis has certainly come full circle in terms of not even being able to freely roam the park five days out of the week to being in control of all of the artifacts present in the museum and educating people about what is most important to him.

“It’s not everyone’s history, it’s American history. And people should learn American history regardless of their ethnicity,” Davis said.

Davis combines his love for cultural artifacts and Southern black history by offering the Black History Month programs at the museum. He teaches four segments which are Slavery, The Reconstruction Era, Jim Crow Era, and Civil Rights.

“The history of African-Americans was not told,” he said of why he offers these classes.