Black History 101 Mobile Museum brings history to our fingertips
More than 150 original objects and historic items were on display in the Heritage Center at SRP’s Project Administration Building. Representing a point in time, the items were dated from the trans-Atlantic slave trade era to hip-hop culture.
An SRP employee interest group called the African American Cultural Committee (AACC) co-sponsored the event with the HR team.
Related video: PBS featured the Black History 101 Mobile Museum on its show American Black Journal in 2017.
Throughout the day, hundreds of employees made their way through the museum. Items such as a KKK membership card were shown next to objects that showed the resilience of black and African American culture. The display of older and newer artifacts brought out a mixture of memories, some painful, some nostalgic.
Each item was carefully collected to show off the important history we must preserve in order to understand and remember the past.
The genius of hip-hop culture
Midway through the day, the museum’s curator and founder, Dr. Khalid el-Hakim, hosted a special lecture. He spoke to nearly 100 employees, providing a big picture view of the museum items. He shared the effect of hip-hop’s “Fifth Element” — knowledge of culture — on the structure of American society.
Interestingly, el-Hakim explained that artists like Dr. Dre and Queen Latifah used the terms “Dr.” and “Queen” to battle negative stereotypes of African Americans.
“That’s the genius of hip-hop culture,” el-Hakim says. “You can redefine, recreate your reality. It creates a way to break the stereotype, a vehicle to get out of the situation you’re in.”
Museum co-operator, Professor Griff of the award-winning hip-hop group Public Enemy, also joined the lecture. Attendees enjoyed a fun moment when they realized that some of the artifacts included pictures of Professor Griff.
Progression, not oppression
El-Hakim shared many examples of the ways hip-hop has been a response to the mistreatment of African Americans. He challenged the audience to continue the conversation beyond the room. For example, attendees were encouraged to form a book club dedicated to reading the works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
El-Hakim also shared ways to avoid making some of the mistakes of our past transgressions. “Have people at the table making decisions with a social justice lens. With a lens for inclusivity.”
The Black History 101 Mobile Museum is on an extended visit in Arizona. It had visited community colleges in the area in the days prior to its SRP visit. Future stops include ASU and Brophy College Preparatory.
SRP is on a mission to celebrate diversity. During Black History Month, we honor the AACC and all employees who further that mission with events like the Black History 101 Mobile Museum.