Documents signed by Fredrick Douglas and Martin Luther King Jr. A pair of shackles from the transatlantic slave trade. Signed albums from cultural groundbreakers. These are just some of the artifacts University of Miami students will be able to see at the Black History 101 Mobile Museum next week. The award winning collection will be on display on Feb. 9th from 10am-3pm in the Shalala Student Center Activities Room.
Dr. Khalid el-Hakim, founder of the Black History 101 Mobile Museum, spent 30 years probing through different flea markets, auctions and antique shops to seek out hidden relics. Today, he holds a stockpile of over 10,000 African American artifacts that tell 400 years of black history. He travels around the states and even internationally with his collection to spread the wealth of knowledge.
“I’m motivated by the need of people to have a full understanding of black history, the contributions and achievements of African Americans. I want to make sure people have access to these types of stories so I’ve been willing to travel around the country and visit places I’m invited to,” el-Hakim said.
The traveling museum came to UM for the first time back in 2018 and now is back following the pandemic. Christopher Doell, director of programs of academic excellence, knew that the mobile museum was something that UM students needed to see after his first encounter with the exhibit.
“After speaking with Dr. el-Hakim for a few minutes, I knew I wanted to bring the program to our campus,” Doell said. It’s one thing to learn history, but it’s another to engage with it in a personal way. We wanted to make it a recurring program, but of course COVID turned everything around. We’re very happy to bring this important exhibit back to UM now.”
This year, the mobile museum will feature a new exhibit called “Hip Hop at 50.” The collection will include cultural and historical artifacts from over five decades of hip hop culture, offering a glimpse into how hip hop has made an impact on popular culture.
The Black History 101 Mobile Museum visit was organized by the Office of Academic Enhancement and is one of many events happening on campus during Black History month. Lauren Lennon, president of the United Black Students, is ecstatic that a non-student organization has arranged events in the name of black history.
“[The museum] demonstrates the value and direct connection of the Black experience to American history. Also, it encourages the inclusion of Black history within our UM community where diversity and inclusion are institutional priorities,” Lennon said.
The museum’s visit comes after Florida Gov. Ron Desantis’ decision to prohibit an Advanced Placement African American studies course in Florida high schools. Dr. el-Hakim stressed that the decision is why his visit is more important now than ever before.
“Having black history education is important so people understand the importance of having a more equitable and just society. Having a black history education helps us have a better understanding of the need to be inclusive of all the stories of black Americans,” el-Hakim said.
The exhibit will be on display from 10am to 3pm and el-Hakim will be speaking during the event starting at 12pm. Students interested in attending can register here.