The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Museum celebrates untaught history

SANKOFA, the African American Museum on Wheels, came to Guilford College on Sept. 1 and 2, and with it the seemingly endless amount of artifacts, pictures, books, magazines, newspapers, and other items that gave both breath and animation to African American history for anyone who had even 20 minutes to spare.”I came because of curiosity, and for knowledge,” said Muhanji Afanda ’10. “Even if you think you know it all, there might be something new, or something told in a different way.”

“I feel like our school doesn’t have a lot of exhibits about multicultural issues in history,” said junior Lamia Elgouacem. “I wanted to be exposed to something different.”

The exhibit was created by Angela Jennings when she realized her nephew did not know much about his own heritage.

“I was disappointed because he was a straight ‘A’ student, which meant it wasn’t being taught,” said Jennings. “And so it was either me or the teacher.”

“It’s an amazing exhibit,” said Dana Professor of English Carolyn Beard Whitlow. “I don’t think anyone could attend and not learn something.”

Indeed, there was plenty for those who wished to learn. While common figures in African American history, such as Fredrick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, were represented, there were also pieces providing knowledge about lesser-known figures, such as Richard Allen, Ida B. Wells, and Cathay Williams.

A large section devoted to inventions created by Africans and African Americans also gave visitors something new to learn. Items one might not have expected to see, from the hairbrush to the helicopter and many more, sat on that table.

“I thought I knew a lot, but you can never know enough,” said Afanda. “I’ve gone through Guilford for four years, but none of this was taught to me. We talk about the Wright brothers, but not the gentleman who gave us the helicopter.”

Afanda was not alone in admiring the inventions section.
“So often American culture doesn’t think of African Americans contributing other than in music, song, dance, and comedy,” said Whitlow. “But there are so many conveniences and medical necessities that are available today, and we never think they were invented by African Americans.”

Since the exhibit started, Jennings’ nephew has learned more, too.

“He challenges me now,” remarked Jennings. “And if he’s reading, he’s reading about the culture.”

But the exhibit provoked more than just intellectual stimulation.
Visitors saw barbaric scenes from the slave trade through paintings, complimented by authentic shackles and a whip. The tour moved through the Civil War era, presenting the most profound and moving writings of abolitionists.

Visitors were also confronted with lynching photography in a section so disturbing yet provoking that it was impossible not to pause and ponder. The exhibit continued to chronicle the brave achievements of countless activists.

The tour ended with a table in the center of the room devoted entirely to President Obama and his family, representing both progress and the issues we still face as a society.

“There should be a more holistic view of American history, including African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and everyone,” said Africana Community Coordinator Jada Drew.
Although the museum raised many issues, the overall feeling at SANKOFA was one of inclusion and celebration.

“One of our values at Guilford is community, and this is really building community,” Drew said. According to Drew, people came in from Guilford’s campus and Greensboro and were made part of that community.

Drew said that they would invite the museum back next year. But Afanda didn’t think that people should wait that long.
“People should not think, ‘When is this coming again?'” Afanda said. “Instead, they should take that curiosity and learn on their own.”

Jennings certainly encourages people to pursue learning.
“Students need to know about our struggle, our pride, and our success, that we, as African Americans have made.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Guilfordian intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Guilfordian does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Guilfordian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *