By Tokiwa T. Smith, San Francisco /Oakland contributor
As a Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) alum, it is always a pleasure to meet my fellow FAMU alumni; especially those who have made great contributions to the world. Bernard and Shirley Kinsey are among those alumni that have not only made great strides in their careers, but have given back to the community as philanthropists and educators. The Kinsey’s have raised over 22 million dollars for charitable and educational organizations, including a donation of 11 million to FAMU. I had the pleasure to meet them at the Museum of African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco, which is the first stop in the Kinsey Collection's National Tour sponsored by Wells Fargo to honor the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey – Where Art and History Intersect, is a national touring exhibit of authentic and rare art, artifacts, books, documents and manuscripts that tell the often untold story of African American achievement and contribution.
The Kinsey’s have been collecting art for 35 years and have one of the largest private collections of African American art, having amassed artifacts, documents and artwork spanning 400 years of history. Mrs. Kinsey shared with me that their collection of African American artwork was inspired by their son Khalil. When Khalil was in the third grade, he was given a class assignment to trace his ancestral roots. He was not able to go as far back as his classmates of other ethnic backgrounds. This class project was the beginning of the Kinsey’s quest to tell the story of the African American experience beyond what African American publications such as Jet and Ebony could tell. The Kinsey Collection gives their ancestors voices, names and personalities so that everyone can understand the triumphs and accomplishments despite the challenges and obstacles they faced. “We want to stimulate conversations about African American achievement not the struggle… and want you to leave the exhibit saying I didn’t know that...” said Bernard Kinsey.
“Wells Fargo embraces the arts as a voice for history and culture,” said Brenda Wright, Wells Fargo senior vice president of Community Relations. “We are excited to present The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, Where Art and History Intersect as a way to share an important story involving the rich history of African Americans, a history of identity and struggle for equality that is both unique and shared by others.” Learn more about the Kinsey Collection by visiting thekinseycollection.com.
The collection is on view at MoAD, 685 Mission Street in San Francisco through May 19, 2013. General Admission $10; Students and Seniors $5; Members and Children 12 and under w/adult FREE. Hours: Wed–Sat: 11:00 am–6:00 pm / Sun 12:00–5:00 pm / Mon–Tues Closed. moadsf.org
The exhibition is organized by The Bernard & Shirley Kinsey Foundation for Arts & Education and KBK Enterprises, Incorporated.