Toyota, in association with Florida A&M University, presented What You Didn’t Learn in High School History on Friday.
This comprehensive lecture featured world renowned art collector and historian Bernard Kinsey as he revealed numerous untold stories of African-American history, deeds and endeavors that are typically left out of history books or ignored in history class.
“The Kinsey Collection strives to give our ancestors a voice, name and personality enabling the viewer to understand the challenges, obstacles, triumphs, accomplishments and extraordinary sacrifices of African-Americans known in his country,” Bernard Kinsey said.
Kinsey’s presentation debunked the more than 400-year-old "myth of absence" in American history.
“Black folks are invisibly present,” Kinsey said. “Too much of American history is involved with African-Americans being taken out of the picture, almost purposefully.”
The history lesson featured pieces from African-American Treasures, the Kinsey Collection exhibition that is currently on display at FAMU. Displayed were rare books, documents, letters and photographs.
In order to give students an opportunity to learn about the unsung heroes of black culture, the Kinsey’s felt obligated to share their own treasures.
“The more we began to understand and know our history the more they felt that other people needed to know about it too,” Shirley Kinsey said.
According to Kinsey, their own history lesson started when their son Khalil brought home an assignment that required him to research his family’s heritage in the third grade.
“We started collecting what I call ‘our collective ancestry.’ (It’s) all the wonderful untold stories of people that you’ve never heard of. You know that three or four that you always hear about during Black History Month regardless of what grade you’re in,” she said.
Kinsey added the collection focuses on the accomplishments and achievements of African-Americans rather than limiting the history to slavery.
Second-year FAMU healthcare management student Jade Clark noticed this lack of historical diversity in her classes and was interested in discovering new role models to look up to.
“There’s a whole lot that we haven’t learned. There were successful black men back in the day. There’s so much that the schools leave out that we don’t know which is problematic,” Clark said. “We’re learning everything about the Caucasian’s history but we don’t learn anything about our own history.”
Bernard Kinsey said his favorite saying conveys what he and his wife Shirley have been about throughout their journey together.
“God grant me a gift to give it to someone else that needs it more than me, that’s what me and my wife have been about for the past 35-40 years,” he said.
The exhibit of more than 100 works commemorating the artistic, historic and cultural contributions of African-Americans will be on display in the Foster-Tanner Fine Arts Gallery on campus until March 25.
For more information about the Kinsey legacy to visit http://www.thekinseycollection.com/