FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Proclaiming Colorado’s Black History
Exhibit, murals, curriculum, and archives opening September 29, 2023
Exhibit open at the Museum of Boulder Main Gallery September 2023 – September 2025
BOULDER, CO | The Museum of Boulder, NAACP Boulder County, Boulder Public Library, Street Wise Arts, the Soul Food Scholar, Blackat Productions, Carol Banks Design, and more collaborating partners are proud to announce the opening of the project Proclaiming Colorado’s Black History.
This project has been in development for over two years and includes a multimedia exhibit, educational curricula, Street Wise murals, oral histories, and a variety of programs.
This project aims to amplify Black perspectives and resource Black historians to preserve and share Colorado’s rich and complex Black history.
Annett James, President of the Boulder County branch of the NAACP, says “Knowledge of the past is the means to transformation. Thank you, Museum of Boulder, for celebrating the importance of remembering; and learning; and who gets included; and who belongs!”
The exhibit focused on five themes identified by the Advisory Council:
- How African Americans built community?
Dearfield agricultural community near present-day Greeley is the most famous example of all-Black communities in Colorado, but there were a number that developed throughout Colorado’s history. Faith communities also play a significant role in fostering community for Black Coloradoans and Boulder’s own historic Second Baptist Church is highlighted through an immersive installation to transport you mind, body, and spirit.
- Business and Entrepreneurship
Figures like Clara Brown, who first came to Colorado as a laundress and built her fortune, and entrepreneur OT Jackson whose many businesses ventures include Dearfield and Boulder’s own Chautauqua Dining Hall catering are brought to the forefront for their groundbreaking ingenuity.
- The Arts
Music, dance, and visual arts played an ongoing role in building Black community. Visitors will enjoy the music of the Second Baptist Church choir and celebrate the legacy of figures like dance entrepreneur, Cleo Parker Robinson.
- Social Justice and Civil Rights
In 1895 Colorado had one Black legislator and a few months after Plessy v. Ferguson, he actually got passed through in Colorado the same legal framework as the 1964 Civil Rights Act. So we had that on the books in Colorado in 1895.
These histories are a means to envision the future of Black Colorado, so the exhibit culminates with work by Afrofuturist artists whose work respond to the question, “what type of ancestor will you be for future Black Coloradoans?”
The project is led by The Soul Food Scholar, Adrian Miller. “I often joke that Colorado is very diverse, we have a lot of different types of White people,” says Miller. “But we have a rich Black history. As you can imagine we have a lot of great stories that we can tell so we are seeking to thread the needle to cover a wide variety of perspectives and experiences. One thing that was really important was to get the community involved so they felt like they had an investment in it.”
This project was developed by the Museum of Boulder and made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and support from many partners. The Museum is required to match the funds provided by the IMLS and that fundraising is ongoing.
An element of the project is the Street Wise Arts Fall Mural Series, Proclaiming Colorado’s Black History through Street Art.
Leah Brenner Clack, Executive Director of Street Wise Arts, says, “Street Wise Arts is excited to extend the storytelling of the exhibition into Boulder’s public spaces through our newest selection of murals. Our mission has always centered on ARTivism (art + activism) and empowering local artists to tell diverse stories. By highlighting Black artists, we hope to amplify Colorado’s Black history and community, create inclusive and welcoming spaces for Black Boulderites and visitors, and advocate for social justice.”
Sitting down with history-makers has been a key component of the project. Oral History Liaison Minister Glenda Strong Robinson, says, “It has been one incredible experience. Each of us has a story. For Black people in Boulder, there were very few that were captured. Me being at Second Baptist Church for the past 43 years, having known families through six generations, I was able to get them to tell their stories. And what stories they are. Black people have been here, have lived here, have raised their families here, have contributed to this bustling economy, and many of them died here. There’s a saying that says if we neglect the history of our past, we’re bound to repeat it. We’re capturing the history of the past, hopefully so that we won’t repeat it.”
An exhibit opening the evening of September 29, which will run for two years in the Museum of Boulder’s Main Gallery.
This interactive and immersive exhibit reveals the Black history of Colorado and of Boulder through film, text, oral histories, music, artifacts, and immersive environments.
This exhibit features:
Writing by award-winning author and researcher, Adrian Miller, known as The Soul Food Scholar.
Design by Carol Banks Design LLC, with Lead Designer Carol Banks and Co-Designer Carolyn McHale.
Film produced and directed by Katrina Miller, owner of Blackat Productions.
Soundscaping design by Creative Director of Programs Nyasha James-Davis.
Art curation by artist and curator Adderly Grant-Lord.
Oral histories from local leaders conducted by Minister Glenda Strong Robinson. A weekend of opening festivities featuring Adam Bradley, DJ Musa Starseed, and JJ Brown’s Raw Soul Band.
Street Wise Arts Fall Mural Series, Proclaiming Colorado’s Black History through Street Art.
These murals will feature Colorado’s Black history as interpreted by Black Colorado muralists.
- Street Wise Arts is seeking:
- – Highly visible walls for murals at locations across Colorado
- – Local muralists with lived experience as a Black Coloradoan
- – Financial donations to fund the project
– For more any information on these needs, check out https://streetwisearts.org or reach out to email@example.com
School curriculum available for free download or bound copies.
These curricula are designed to match the state CDE standards for second grade, fourth grade, eighth grade, and high school.
These curricula are written by Proclaiming Colorado’s Black History Instructional Designer Aubrie Reed.
Second grade: “Exploring our Local Neighborhoods & Changemakers
The Little Rectangle & Boulder’s Black Community During the Late 1800s to the Early 1900s” and “A Contribution to Boulder – Family Recipes.”
Fourth grade: “Pioneers for Statehood, the Black Men & Women Who Helped Colorado Become the 38th State” and “Discovering Lincoln Hills.”
Eighth grade: “The Struggle for Suffrage Rights in Colorado, a Petition that Reflects the Core Themes of the Reconstruction Era” and “Rights & Citizenship: Comparisons of Life in Early Colorado.”
High school: “Oral Histories – Lessons in Overcoming Obstacles “ and “Interpreting History, Research Projects about Resilience, Perseverance, & Black Success Stories in Colorado.”
Original oral histories archived by the Maria Rogers Oral History Program at the Boulder Public Library.
These oral histories were conducted by Oral History Liaison, Minister Glenda Strong Robinson, Historian for the NAACP Boulder County and historic Second Baptist Church.
Recording and archiving oral histories is ongoing. Those currently recorded in this project feature the life stories of:
Sandra M. Banks
Inez D. Buggs
Wilford W. Buggs
Alfreda E. Hall
Reginald Irving Lingham
Hon. Gary Jackson
Carolyn D. Love
Eileen Lingham Walker
Dr. Reiland Rabaka
May Evelyn Snowden
Glenda Strong Robinson
A call for artists with lived experience as Black Coloradoans
Artists statewide are encouraged to submit artwork or join us as an Artist in Residence
Artists are asked to submit art which responds to the question:
“What type of ancestor will you be to future Black Coloradoans?”
To apply, please reach out to Adderly Grant-Lord: Aglfineart@nullgmail.com
Artists interested in joining us as an Artist in Residence should reach out to Lori Preston: firstname.lastname@example.org
Press are encouraged to attend Opening Weekend events and connect with Project members there. Please email Emily to be put on the comp list <email@example.com>. Emily can also support scheduling large-group interviews with members of the Project Team and Advisory Council.
OPENING WEEKEND EVENTS:
Friday, September 29, 2023
Food, Drinks, Music, Remarks, First Look at the Exhibit from 5 pm – 8 pm.
Step inside the Museum of Boulder’s newest exhibit, Proclaiming Colorado’s Black History. Proclaiming Colorado’s Black History will give Coloradans and all visitors an inclusive understanding of the state’s history by illuminating the stories of Black Coloradans who have lived in this area for the past two centuries. Learn about the contributions they have made to the Centennial State, and the legacy they have left behind. Experience the history of “Colorful Colorado” through the African American perspective! Join us for food, drinks, a DJ, general festivities and an exhibition viewing and discussion from all the contributors and community partners who have made this exhibit possible.
Tickets are available through our website. https://museumofboulder.org/events/proclaiming-colorados-black-history-opening-night/
Saturday September 30th “Black to the Future”
Food, Drinks 4pm-8pm on the Roof
“Black to the Future” Conversation with Adam Bradley. With “Proclaiming Colorado’s Black History,” the Museum of Boulder is contributing to ongoing efforts across the country to amplify Black voices in the stories we tell about our nation’s history. Join us for a conversation with Adam Bradley, a member of the “Proclaiming” advisory council and a professor of English & African American Studies at UCLA, as he shares experiences as a scholar, writer, and curator working with the New York Times, the Smithsonian’s Museum of African American History and Culture, the Grammy Museum, the National Park Service, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and other organizations across the nation. How do we go about preserving the best of the past in the present to secure a thriving future for us all? In the Museum Lodge “Sink” Exhibit – 5pm-6pm
Rooftop concert / party with JJ’s Brown’s Raw Soul Groove Band (weather permitting) 6:30pm-8pm
Tickets to follow.