African-American history rolls onto campus

The frequently used symbol of Sankofa, which some translate as “it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot,” represents creating a successful future by using the past. The Sankofa African-American Museum on Wheels , which will be at UNA Feb. 12 and 13, uses its exhibits to show how far African-Americans have come since the times of slavery.

The Sankofa African-American Museum on Wheels is set to bring a historical learning experience to UNA during Black History Month.

The Diversity Student Ambassadors and the Office of Diversity and Institutional Equity will host the museum in the GUC performance center from 3 to 7 p.m. Feb. 12, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 13.

Admission to the event is free for everyone.

“We want students to be aware of the contributions of African-Americans and the harsh realities they faced,” said ODIE Director Joan Williams. “It does not shy away from the harsh reality of African-American history and offers a learning opportunity for all of us.”

The traveling museum features a collection of artwork, memorabilia and oral presentations from 1860 to present day that captures the lives of African-American slaves and the early descendants who came to the U.S.

Sophomore Maranda Anderson said the museum is important because it will help keep problems in the past from repeating themselves.

“There’s a lot of young individuals in the Florence area, so we can see where we came from (and) where we’re going,” she said.

Historical figures, such as Ida B. Wells, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Tuskegee Airmen will be highlighted, Williams said.

She said she believes visitors will marvel at all of the inventions and contributions African-Americans have made in history.

Museum curator Angela Jennings has traveled across the United States since 1995, taking her traveling museum to colleges, universities, churches and other events and venues.

“I look forward to sharing the work and wealth of knowledge that comes from both Ms. Jennings and the Sankofa African-American Museum on Wheels with the UNA and Shoals community,” Williams said. “I am confident that bringing the museum to our campus and community will be an unforgettable experience.”

Williams said the goal on campus during Black History Month is to make the narrative more complete by building cultural competence among students and not just highlighting the history of a few African-Americans.

Senior Justin Scruggs said the museum will give a broader view on African-American culture.

We learn so much about other peoples heritage and other cultures, (so) it would be important to learn more about African culture.

Jennings will present a short oratorical presentation after viewers see the exhibit, Williams said.

A question and answer session by Jennings will follow.

This event is made possible by student activity fees, and it is open to all students, faculty, staff and area residents.