Kinsey Collection expected to attract 3 million

By the end of spring, more than 3 million visitors will have visited the Kinsey Collection exhibition as it closes a nine-month run at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
“There’s George Washington on the left, the American flag in the middle and the Kinsey Collection on the right,” Bernard Kinsey told a Black History Month lunchtime audience at San Francisco City Hall.
With wife Shirley Kinsey, he has compiled an extensive collection of African-American artifacts, books, and art from 1600 to the present.
Since retiring 20 years ago “on Feb. 1,” combating the “myth of absence’ has been a calling for the couple.
In addition to the Washington exhibit, 50 pieces from their collection are on display in the San Francisco African-American HIstorical and Cultural Society at 762 Fulton St.
The society holds the Black History Month event annually in City Hall. New Mayor Ed Lee welcomed the audience with a story of how his father was a merchant in a predominately black community in Seattle. After the father’s death, an African-American businessman gave his older brother a job.
Lee said black history was important to all Americans.
Also newly elected is Supervisor Malia Cohen, representing District 10 in the southeast part of the city.
She acknowledged new statistics reporting a decline in the ratio of black residents to less than four percent in 2010. Cohen said she expects the black community to have great impact regardless of the population.
Kinsey focused on the psychological effect of their collection while encouraging the audience to visit the San Francisco installation and the Smithsonian display while in the nation’s capital.
He told of an eagle egg hatched in a chicken coop, which spent its early years believing it was a chicken.
“Many of us have chicken jobs, chicken bosses, chicken dreams, but we need to think like eagles,” said Kinsey.
He began by describing two Massachusetts women who successfully won suits in court for freedom and back pay in the early and mid 1700s.
“Our exhibit tells how people overcame,” said Kinsey, who instructed the audience not to refer to slaves, but to those who were enslaved. “When you call people slaves, you make them easy to ignore.”
The joint exhibition is the latest milestone in a distinguished business and technology career which includes a 20-year executive stint with Xerox and co-chairing the Rebuild LA initiative in the early 1990s.
“There are three keys to success,” said Kinsey, “something to do; someone to love and something to look forward to.” Kinsey said his wife, observing her birthday next week, has fulfilled all three during their 44-year marriage.
“We have a saying: give me a gift that I need so that I may give it to someone else who needs it more,” he charged the audience.

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