World-renowned philanthropists and Florida A&M University alumni Bernard and Shirley Kinsey returned to their alma mater Friday to bring their collection to life with their lecture “What You Didn’t Learn In High School History.”
Covering the lives of people like Grafton Tyler Brown, Phillis Wheatley and Elijah McCoy, lecturer Bernard Kinsey shared the often untold stories of African-American accomplishment in America. The lecture sponsored by Toyota, also covered the story of several artifacts featured in the Kinsey Collection, including an early 19th century marriage license certificate.
“The goal of the campaign and the goal of the collection is, really, to showcase the un-told stories of black achievement,” Will Ayers, project manager for the Kinsey Collection FAMU campaign said. “It’s also to empower students of color. Toyota really believes in giving back to the black community and providing a better future for students of color.”
The Kinsey Collection is one of the world’s largest personal collections of rare African-American artifacts dating as far back as 400 years, documents, books and manuscripts.
“The Kinsey Collection strives to give our ancestors a voice, name and personality, enabling the viewer to understand the challenges, obstacles, triumphs, accomplishment and extraordinary sacrifice of African-Americans in building this country,” Bernard Kinsey, co-founder of the collection, said.
With such a large portion of American history in their collection, the Kinsey’s consider education as their main goal.
Their book “The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasure of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey – Where Art and History Intersect” has been adopted by the Florida Department of Education to teach African-American history to K-12 students. California Department of Education is expected to adopt the book into its curriculum next year as well.
Through education, the Kinseys strive to restore a sense pride in future generations by letting them know that they “come from great stuff.” Students like Serenity Williams, senior at Godby High School, understand the importance of learning about the historic contributions of African-Americans and take pride in learning new things.
“I think it's very important because sometimes our history gets erased or not told at all and I feel like it’s important especially now when young people are coming up like me and they feel kind of lost,” Williams said. “You can look back and say ‘well my ancestors did this and I really like how they did that, so I’m going to continue.’”
Kinsey’s son, Khalil Kinsey, will be returning to FAMU late March to host two events.
The Kinsey Collection Live will be a spoken word competition featuring poems inspired by the Kinsey Collection.
Khalil Kinsey will also be the featured speaker at the Black Student Summit in FAMU’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communications lecture hall. The summit will focus on bridging the generational gap within the African-American community, voting and reshaping the future of Black America.
For more information on the Kinseys or the Kinsey Collection you can visit thekinseycollection.com.