Kinsey family leaves lasting impact on FAMU’s campus

A portrait of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey is featured at the Meek – Eaton Black Archives where items from their vast historical African- American collection can be seen by the public.
Photo Submitted by Diasha Henley.

The Kinsey family has been extremely influential to Florida A&M University. FAMU alumnus Bernard Kinsey along with his wife alumna Shirley Kinsey has focused their attention on The Kinsey Collection which has generated national attention.

The vast collection features artifacts and historical pieces that date back to the 17th century, seen by over 3 million visitors, and featured at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. In a partnership with Toyota, the Kinsey Collection made an exhibit debut at FAMU in January 2016.  

Toyota’s Chief Social Innovation Officer, Latondra Newton, believed the Kinsey Collection offers an insight into the rich history and culture of the black experience.

“Toyota and the Kinsey’s really connect with each other because they’re talking about telling those untold stories,” Newton expressed. “The things people don’t always hear about, that are not commonly advertised in the education system.”

Kinsey explained that Toyota has a history of sponsoring the exhibit. The FAMU appearance is the first of what he hopes will be a tour of historically black colleges and universities across the country.

Since graduating in 1966 with a degree in math, Kinsey has raised millions of dollars for different colleges and organizations at his alma mater. He has also earned an honorary doctorate degree from FAMU and Alabama A&M University.

Tallahassee holds a special place in the Kinsey’s heart.  The couple got married on FAMU’s campus on Feb. 11, 1967, and spent their honeymoon at Tallahassee’s Prince Murat Hotel.

A piece of the exhibit was also on display in the American Adventure Pavilion at Epcot in Orlando through 2016. The Kinsey Collection book was adopted by the Florida Department of Education for African-American curriculum to be taught to students in grades K-12 statewide.

After visiting FAMU, the collection went on to tour at other locations but, will now be permanently placed at FAMU.

The Kinsey have also been more than generous to the Marching 100. The Kinsey’s made a hefty donation of $250,000 for their new uniforms and provided for the purchase of a 45-foot trailer that is being used to transport the band’s instruments and equipment.

Kinsey played the French Horn in the Marching 100 and his time as a member was one of his most fond memories while at FAMU.

"There has never been an organization that I belong to that has had the impact in shaping me in the person I am today as the Marching 100,” stated Kinsey.

With the donation, the university was able to purchase 315 band uniforms, 12 drum major uniforms and, 20 flag uniforms from Fruhauf Uniform Company in Wichita, Kansas. The Marching 100 debuted the new uniforms at the 2017 Florida Classic in Orlando against Bethune Cookman University.

Director of Bands Shelby Chipman expressed his gratitude for the contributions of the Kinsey’s by dedicating a speech before the performance.  

“We are extremely grateful for the Kinsey’s and the impact they’ve made,” Chipman announced.

Offering a glimpse of the past to current generations, the Kinsey’s have assisted with moving FAMU forward while giving back to the university.