This is an updated version of a story initially posted Monday morning.
BARSTOW - For many years during Black History Month in February, Annie Jo Shropshire would open the doors of her house on Mesa Drive and teach the community about African-American history.

Shropshire, a longtime Barstow resident and advocate for African-American heritage, died Wednesday of complications from a hernia at the age of 54.

She maintained a museum more than 400 objects, including a bill of sale from a slave auction, drinking fountain signs marked "Coloured fountain only" and paintings from African-American artists. In addition to the open house, Shropshire frequently made presentations to schools, churches and community groups about African-American history.

According to Shropshire's daughter, Eboni, more than 75 to 100 people toured the home each year. She said the open houses would continue in tribute to her mother.

"My mom had a really open heart. She'd just open her home to people because she wanted them to know their culture," she said.

Eboni said that her mother began the collection 30 years ago when she was given an antique cast-iron skillet from her grandmother.

"At first it wasn't a museum; it was just the way my mom used to decorate," Eboni said.
Mayor Lawrence Dale said that he admired Shropshire's work as a community educator and had seen the exhibit several times.

"This lady was a real asset to our community working as an interface to bring the cultures together," Dale said.

Shropshire was born in Cason, Texas, but lived in Barstow for 35 years. She graduated from Kennedy High School in 1971. She worked for 15 years at the Continental Telephone company and then as a manager at Wal-Mart for 12 years.

She belonged to the Barstow Art Industrial Mens' and Womens' Club, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Northside Church of Christ.

She was co-founder of Barstow's annual Juneteenth event, a celebration of slave emancipation.
Annie Shropshire's niece, Trena Daniels, said that being a leader in the community was a natural part of her aunt's personality.

"She was always in charge of something. It didn't matter what was going on in her life, she would be there for you 110 percent," she said.

Daniels said Shropshire was well-known in the neighborhood as "Mama Jo," and her house was frequently filled with friends, neighbors and relatives. After her husband, Gerry Shropshire, a gunnery sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, died in 1999, she became a foster parent and took in 14 children in three years, as many as seven at one time.

"She was a take-charge lady," said Charlie Hall, minister of the Barstow Northside Church of Christ where Shropshire was church secretary.

She assisted with the church's finances and helped out wherever there was a need, Hall said.
"If there was a job to be done, she'd volunteer," he said.

Shropshire's lifelong friend Mary L. Hailey said Shropshire was active in the community because she loved people.

"Any one could go to her for anything. She'd feed you, give you a ride, call someone else who could help you, anything to help," she said.

She is survived by her son, Vernon Harper, her two daughters, Eboni and Brandi Christine Jeffery-Shropshire, and her seven brothers and sisters.

Funeral services will be provided by Mead Mortuary at 36930 Irwin Road and visiting hours will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18. A funeral service will be held at the Church of Christ at 1031 W. Buena Vista Street at 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 19. The burial will take place at Riverside National Cemetery at 11 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 22.

Contact the writer: (760) 256-4126 or jason_smith@link.freedom.com