Did anyone else grow up going to museums? Whether it was on a school trip or with your parents or your friends' parents, it was always fun to see the different exhibits and learn about things that we may have missed in school.
Even as an adult, there's still plenty for us to learn. But, perhaps it's harder to find the time to visit the local museum. And even more difficult still if there's a specific museum you want to visit that happens to be in the next town. That's why this idea is genius.
Known as the Black History 101 Mobile Museum, this traveling museum of sorts showcases over 10,000 artifacts and collectibles that all relate to Black history. Founded by Detroit native, Dr. Khalid el-Hakim, he's already visited 41 states and over 500 institutions, according to secondwave.com.
His collection is extensive and ranges from items like shackles used by actual slave-owners to letters written by Malcolm X to Jim Crow artifacts.
Dr. el-Hakim began collecting items in the early '90s but began traveling with his then 500 items after attending the Million Man March in '95. He displayed his collection in Detroit classrooms, where he was a teacher, in community spaces, and more.
Now, the traveling museum is his full-time job and, as mentioned above, he travels across the country displaying these items in the hopes of not just creating conversation but educating people on the entirety of the Black experience in America. And, he's making a stop in Kalamazoo.
May 16th through the 23rd of 2022, Dr. el-Hakim will be touring Kalamazoo Public Schools with his collection.
Why Do We Need Black History Museums?
Simply put, the very limited history that we're taught in school doesn't even begin to encompass the very rich history People of Color have in this country. Plus, it's a way to restore the memory of the public so we can learn, not ignore, and actually move forward with equity and equality together.
Urban.org has a fantastic article covering all the reasons why Black history museums, like Dr. el-Hakim's mobile museum, are so important.
Locally to Kalamazoo, the closest stationary Black history museum resides in Grand Rapids. The Grand Rapids African American Museum & Archives focuses on the unique cultural contributions made by local African Americans and people of color both Nationally and globally. Read more here.
Dr. el-Hakim's trip to Kalamazoo Public Schools isn't his only connection to Kalamazoo. In 2020, WMU announced plans to have Dr. el-Hakim curate a permanent Michigan hip-hop archive on campus. In an interview, el-Hakim said,
Having this permanently on campus will make WMU one of the very few universities to have a dedicated space dedicated to the preservation of hip-hop.
Read more about Dr. el-Hakim's incredible story, see other stops on his tour, and find out how to show your support here.
Want to support your local, Black-owned businesses in honor of Black History Month? Fantastic. Of course, businesses could use our support year-round. Here are at least 10 Kalamazoo and Battle Creek area small businesses you can shop at today, tomorrow, and for the rest of the year: