By Carina Sorrentino
In honor of Black History Month, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Black Student Union, the department of African studies and the department of American studies welcomed the Black History 101 Mobile Museum to campus on Feb. 12.
The Mobile Museum’s creator and curator Khalid el-Hakim travels across the country with an eclectic collection of over 5,000 items signifying the importance of black history. At the Nott, students could see items significant to black history—from a brick off the wall of a slave dungeon in Senegal, to a postage stamp of Duke Ellington, even a Christmas card signed by Rosa Parks.
Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs Jason Benitez stated, “There are parts of our history that go overlooked, but ignoring it doesn’t give us the full story.”
The ultimate goal of the museum is to use artifacts as a teaching tool to convey the full story of African American struggles and successes. The museum’s guest speaker, Professor Griff of the hip hop group Public Enemy, delivered a speech that stated, “It is up to black people to define who we are….Our story needs to be told to us by us.”
El-Hakim said that part of his goal is to “show people that the struggle hasn’t ended.” Many obstacles remain prevalent in the African American community, and el-Hakim seeks to use history to help people better understand where we are today.
Students and faculty were in awe at some of the items, such as an authentic Ku Klux Klan hood, which allowed history students the chance to see their studies first-hand: “I think it was really eye-opening, especially the entire Malcolm X section,” commented Shreya Chowdhury ‘15.
Visual Arts Professor Lorraine Cox explained, “It’s this type of event that bridges campus life and academics, which is something I would like to see more of.” The professors believed that allowing students to personally connect to the artifacts and learn first-hand about black history made the museum a successful addition to Union’s atmosphere this week.