We Were Here and We Matter…
Lamar and I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening ceremony of the Kinsey Collection exhibit on Friday March 8, 2013 at the Epcot Center at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. This exhibit contains 40 pieces of a larger collection of African American art, artifacts, documents, books, and more. The collection belongs to a lovely couple, Bernard and Shirley Kinsey who live by two basic life principles: “to whom much is given, much is required” and “life of no regrets.” They started the collection out of their personal passion for art and African American History and now use it in their mission to educate all Americans about the contributions and accomplishments of African Americans in America.
The Kinsey’s believe that when you understand African American History it changes you. And when you integrate this history into your lives you are different.
“ African American history fills in the holes….and it shows us that we (African Americans) were here and that we matter.” – Bernard Kinsey
Partnering is What It’s All About…
As Bernard Kinsey took the podium to speak during the grand opening ceremony, the first words out his mouth were: “the best part of my day is Shirley Kinsey,” his wife of 46 years. They started from very humble beginnings, he told us. When they decided to leave their home state of Florida, they left with “a jar and $26.” He went on to say that the key to their success in life was partnering and working together. They lived their life on the principles of loving each other, working together, and saving their money.
It’s only befitting that the Kinsey’s have partnered with Disney to share this exhibit.
“We are thrilled to bring the Kinsey Collection to Epcot guests,” said Jim MacPhee, senior vice president, Walt Disney World Parks. “Epcot is such a rich cultural tapestry that it serves as the perfect showcase for this powerful collection, with its celebration of the human spirit.”
Epcot is a place that millions of people visit each year to celebrate the human spirit and to explore technology and cultures from around the world. And now they will be able to explore select pieces from the Kinsey Collection. Re-Discovering America: Family Treasures from the Kinsey Collection is located in the American Adventures Pavillion in Epcot.
“We always wanted to extend the reach of the Collection to a larger, more international and diverse audience,” explained Bernard Kinsey. “So we are delighted to be collaborating with Disney to share the stories of our remarkable ancestors.”
In the true Disney way, visitors of the exhibit will be immersed in an interactive storytelling experience that has been created by the Walt Disney World Imagineers. My favorite part of the exhibit are the interactive storytelling lanterns. When you activate the lanterns, history comes to life as celebrities narrate these untold American stories.
I Didn’t Know That…
The Kinseys hope to empower people to start their own narrative by exploring their own personal history. And, Bernard Kinsey said he wanted everyone to leave the exhibit being able to say: “I didn’t know that…”
And that’s exactly what happened when I visited the exhibit. I learned that:
- Phillis Wheatley was the first African-American to publish a book of poetry (1773). She wrote poetry about hope and freedom and is now known as The Mother of African American Literature. I didn’t know that……
- In 1870, only seven years after Emancipation, Hiram Rhodes Revels became the first African-American to represent Mississippi in the U.S. Senate. Josiah Walls became the first African-American to represent Florida in the House of Representatives. I definitely didn’t know that…..
And there is so much more learn about “OUR” American heritage. Please take some time to visit Re-Discovering America: Family Treasures from the Kinsey Collection the next time you are at Epcot Center at Walt Disney World at the American Heritage Gallery.