Starkville area residents and visitors still have one more week to see a renown collection of art and history seen by more than 4 million people across the United States. African American Treasures from The Kinsey Collection will be on display in the John Grisham Room at Mitchell Memorial Library on the Mississippi State University campus through Saturday, June 20. The collection represents a rare and must-see opportunity to experience an often untold part of American history — that of the cultural influence of African Americans.
Part of the extensive collection of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, the display features centuries-old documents of the slave trade, and original writings, paintings and printed editions representing the creative work of African Americans in slavery from the 1700-1800s. It also features artifacts and documents from the Reconstruction era through Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement, as well as works of contemporary African American art.
The Collection is chock full of pieces for both history and art buffs. Visitors can view the photographs and official Congressional placards of the first African American lawmakers, including that of Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi. Stunning oil paintings of rural life from the 19th century are included, as well as more contemporary works from the 1980s and beyond. The exhibit includes many important historical documents such as original copies of the U.S. Supreme Court Dred Scott and Brown v. Board of Education decisions. A copy of the map and program of activities traces the demonstration route of the landmark 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. And, bringing history poignantly to life, it also includes a placard proclaiming “Honor King: End Racism” which was carried in the Memphis memorial march after Dr. King’s death.
From rare photographs immortalizing African American cultural icons and documents outlining the realities of a slave’s life, to works of art and memoir by African Americans from the slavery era through today, the Kinsey Collection offers a unique glimpse into the cultural influence of many trailblazers. The collection reveals the heart and soul of it’s collectors, the Kinsey family — trailblazers themselves.
Bernard and Shirley Kinsey met as civil rights activists attending the historically black Florida A&M University in 1963. After marrying in 1967, the Kinseys held distinguished careers culminating at the Xerox Corporation. Through lives devoted to philanthropy, the collection serves as a tangible demonstration of their life’s motto: to whom much is given, much is required.
A visit to the exhibit in the John Grisham Room includes a 6-minute introductory video and the opportunity to view documents, rare books, artifacts, paintings, photographs, and many other treasures of African American achievement. The Greater Starkville Development Partnership has been proud to co-sponsor the exhibit as an example of our community’s commitment to diversity and as a unique and impactful opportunity to better understand how our culture has been shaped by the influence of countless African Americans.
The exhibit will be on display through Saturday, June 20, and we hope you will take the opportunity during these last few days to see this amazing collection of history and culture.