African American Museum encourages, educates

“We did not come to America because it was a better place.
We came to America and made it a better place.”

History, art, Kinsey Collection collide

to create cultural masterpiece

I recently had the privilege of visiting the African American Museum in Dallas, Texas, to take in the Kinsey African American History & Art Collection before it left the city. I’m disappointed that I did not visit sooner and more often. This treasure was worth more time than I gave to it, and for that I am sorry.

According to the Kinsey Collection web site, the purpose of the traveling exhibit is to “celebrate African American achievement and contribution from 1595-present, striving to dispel the ‘myth of absence’ through authentic artifacts and fine art that helps fill in the blanks of American history.”

The Kinsey Collection contains the known oldest baptismal record for an African American, from 1595, as well as the oldest African-American marriage certificate. It contains first edition books by authors who changed the course of history with their writing. The collection indeed celebrates the art and culture and educates those who view it, helping everyone who learns from it to better understand how African American history is United States history.

The earliest known black baptism record was in St. Augustine, Florida, Catholic Diocese.

While there is a lot of art in the Kinsey Collection, it is foremost a history collection. It successfully meets the owners’ goals to broaden knowledge, break stereotypes, dispel myths, and inspire.

While I cannot deny that the African American experience is different from the white American experience or the Latino American experience or the experience of any other cultural group, this collection reinforces what I’ve learned in my life and on my travels: because we are all people, we have a lot more in common than we have as differences.

Even though the Kinsey Collection is moving on, the African American Museum is itself a treasure that I don’t think enough people know about or visit. It tells stories of black Americans in Dallas and across the nation. It celebrates the achievements blacks made when the nation was segregated and remembers the horrors inflicted whites inflicted upon them.

Music, art, history are shown through the architecture and design of the building as well as the artifacts. It includes the permanent exhibit Facing the Rising Sun, which tells the story of a black community and cemetery that was removed when the Central Expressway was built, and a display of folk art.

I highly recommend the museum to everyone who visits Dallas as a way to learn more about American history and Dallas history. Located in Fair Park, it is not far from downtown. To learn more, visit

This pastel is one of my favorite pieces at the African American Museum. The vibrant colors and design made me want to stay and examine it for a long time. I was disappointed about the reflection in the glass but decided not to PhotoShop it because the reflected window shows the dogon symbol from Mali, Africa.
This watercolor by William Pajaud, titled Seascape, 1984, was one of my son’s and my favorite pieces because Pajaud shows such mastery over the watercolor medium.
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