Khalid el-Hakim makes sure learning about Black History doesn’t just happen in February
Khalid el-Hakim started frequenting antique shops, garage sales and flea markets and collecting rare artifacts pertaining to Black history in the early 1990s.
Among his prized possessions: a document signed by Malcom X, slave shackles, and an old drinking fountain sign that differentiates between “White” and “Colored.”
What inspired the collection?
“Dr. David Pilgrim at Ferris State University had a very powerful and engaging way of teaching his diverse group of students about the history of racism in America,” el-Hakim recalls. “He would bring in Jim Crow-era artifacts and use those objects to provide context to different themes and concepts discussed in his lectures.”
For the Detroit native, seeing those “real” historical examples of America’s ugly past brought history to life, and more importantly, it sparked some much-needed conversations regarding race among his peers.
After returning from the historic 1995 Million Man March in Washington, D.C., el-Hakim became inspired to take his private collection of then 500 artifacts on the road. He started displaying the items around Detroit at various community meetings. His goal? Bring folks up to speed on the history that’s often omitted from textbooks.
Read more of my latest piece for Ebony [here].