According to the state's Department of Finance, the museum hosts close to 100,000 visitors a year. Many of these are schoolchildren on field trips to visit the "relic" room where Davis' slippers as well as his pocket watch are kept. A framed article depicts Davis, an American patriot who kept the "north at bay" for four long years. It is located near the gift shop.
Evelyn England, an African American woman who worked 12 years at the historic site as a receptionist, stated that some people, both Black and White, were shocked to see her there.
England stated to The Associated Press that "I'm in a unique situation because whites don’t really want me there, and Blacks do not want to come here."
England, 62 years old, has retired from her $34,700 state job. It wasn't the most pleasant of departures. State records show that she was suspended last month for refusing a performance review. She also stated she had filed a U.S. racial discrimination case. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A spokesperson for the Department of Finance stated that they declined to comment on the matter regarding personnel.
England hopes that the museum will have a wider view of history after all the years spent working with the furniture and belongings of the Davis family. She said that slavery was the catalyst for the Civil War.
"Tell it as it is. Tell it as it is. This is what happened. This is what we know to have occurred. Give it all the truth . Otherwise, you're creating a false narrative about this gala. "There were some very ugly things that occurred," she stated.
The museum's explanation displays, which include a discussion of the furniture and the use of the rooms, are largely about the history of the museum. They also discuss slavery, which Davis referred to as a "moral, social, and political blessing."
The residence was saved by the White House Association,a state chartered women's organization. It still owns its contents, and continues to be involved even though Finance Department employees work at the site. In 1923, the legislature required that the state-owned building be used as a "reminder of how great and pure were southern statesmen"
England believes it would be more beneficial if the historic site were managed by the Department of Archives and History.
Bob Wieland, the museum's curator, stated Friday that he would contact the board with questions about the museum's management, but he does not believe the museum portrays a positive view of Davis.
"Jefferson Davis is not a great house member. He was president of the Confederate States of America. Wieland stated that we would not say more or less than this.
England would occasionally give tours but guides provided only information like dates (February-May 1861), when Montgomery was the capital of the Confederacy.
Over the years, there have been many changes to the museum. She claimed that there was once a Davis "shrine". Except for stickers that were used in Montgomery, the Confederate flags no longer sold at the gift shop.
"They have made progress. She said it might be small steps.
England, who lives near Marion, claimed she is a distant relative of Jimmie Lee Jackson. He was a civil rights activist who was shot and killed in 1965 by a state trooper. His death inspired the Montgomery to Selma voting rights marches that resulted in the passage of the Voting Right Act. England was just a child at the time. He still remembers the chaos and pain.
England stated that she sometimes used humor and questions to help visitors see the other side of things.
One person claimed that secession was about protecting states' rights. This view had been long taught to southerners as the root of the Civil War. She replied, "But did everyone have equal rights?"
She would say, "You love Confederacy because it stands for your rights." What were they fighting for? Some might say that states' rights are what they were fighting for. Your solution to the problem of states' rights is flawed because it doesn't apply to all citizens in the state.
An older white woman said, "Oh, the South will Rise!" to no one as she browsed the gift shop. The merchandise included books, stickers of Confederate flags, and toys for children, including Teddy Bears in Union and Confederate uniforms. England asked the woman, "What are your rising from?"
She replied that the woman did not reply. England replied, "If looks could kill, I'd be dead woman."
She said that many interactions were positive and she recalls good conversations with people, even those who, as a supervisor warned, could be prejudiced against.
Some African Americans have "chewed her out" for working there, she said. She said, "It came at my from both sides."
Many people, both black and white, were curious about her race.
One white woman asked, "How do I work here?"
She laughed and replied, "Ma'am. If you pay all my bills, I'll quit today."
England hopes that her presence will open minds.
"Open up to what you think. This is where real change will occur: in your heart. Monuments can be taken down. If they have any hidden treasures, it is possible to take them down.