20-20 the History Museum Brings an Increasing Number of African-Americans to Its Board and Staff to Sharpen Our Perspective on Local History

By Yvonne Samuel Of The Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), September 12, 1996 | Go to article overview

20-20 the History Museum Brings an Increasing Number of African-Americans to Its Board and Staff to Sharpen Our Perspective on Local History


Yvonne Samuel Of The Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


FEW would disagree that African-Americans have played a significant role in the community's history and culture since the founding of St. Louis in 1764. Yet many African-Americans here have long said that exhibits and books by so-called master historians have downplayed the contributions of blacks.

If that sounds like carping and you fancy yourself knowledgeable about local history, see how many of these important benchmarks and names ring familiar:

1875: Sumner High becomes the first high school for black Americans west of the Mississippi. 1890: Dr. W.P.T. Jones becomes St. Louis' first black physician. 1909: The St. Louis Giants are organized as the city's first black professional baseball team. (They played in the Negro National League befo re folding after the 1921 season.) Throughout the 1900s, a host of African-American musicians made notable contributions in ragtime, jazz, blues, gospel, classical and rock 'n' roll. Most of us have a notion of that, but the details remain a bit vague. For almost two decades, the Missouri Historical Society has been at work trying to remedy that. Exhibits were mounted, but more importantly, people were included. The society's History Museum established a partnership with the St. Louis Public School System, hired more African-Americans staffers, appointed more African-Americans to its board and awarded an increasing amount of its construction work to African-American contractors. Now the society plans to initiate two new projects: the "Core Exhibit" and the "African-American Project," designed, in part, to attract people of color to the museum. This summer, the society hosted a forum to solicit suggestions from an advisory committee of African-American staffers and board members at cultural institutions, volunteers, collectors and artists. At the forum, participants criticized negative representation of African-Americans in the current exhibits. Also, some complained they were tired of seeing the same themes, such as civil rights, slavery, Dred S cott, Scott Joplin, music and sports. Suggestions for the African-American Project included interactive exhibits and computers for children; more historical material on each artifact; community participation in every project; stronger connections to the St. Louis public schools; and more exhibits that deal with neighborhoods, people and community institutions. "Our goal is to have African-Americans come to see themselves in the exhibits," said Katharine Corbett, the society's interpretation director. With the Core Exihibit, the society hopes to integrate the experiences of people of diverse cultures from the 13th century to the late 20th century. Corbett acknowledges that the Missouri Historical Society needed to upgrade its presentation of blacks. "We had made an assumption that white history was history. We also assumed that whites go to exhibits about whites and African-Americans go to exhibits about African-Americans," she said. Missouri Historical Society president Bob Archibald added: "St. Louisans cannot understand the direction of St. Louis history without knowing the influence of African-Americans in that history. Their representation in the United States is essential to explaining what America is." While Archibald acknowledges that the society still has a long way to go, he says he is proud of its efforts to promote cultural diversity. For example, in 1980, only two of the society's 28 staffers were African-Americans. Both were in housekeeping. Today, 37 percent - or 41 - of the society's 111 full-time staffers are African-American. Five are in senior level staff positions. In 1982, KMOV news anchor Julius Hunter was the first African-American elected to the Missouri Historical Society's Board of Trustees. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

20-20 the History Museum Brings an Increasing Number of African-Americans to Its Board and Staff to Sharpen Our Perspective on Local History
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.