Culture

New D.C. Museum Honors The Legacy Of Historically Black Colleges And Universities

New D.C. Museum Honors The Legacy Of Historically Black Colleges And Universities

 

 All photos by: Joanne S. Lawton 

The HBCU (Historically Black College and Universities) Museum is now open in Washington, D.C.! Thanks to the vision of Terrence Forte and his family, there’s now a space that exclusively celebrates and preserves the rich history and impact of HBCUs in the United States.

While the museum is not affiliated with any particular HBCU, Forte's parents are proud Howard University alumni. The goal of the museum is to showcase historical images and artifacts of HBCU culture to garner interest and funding for a larger museum space in D.C. and possibly a second location in Atlanta, GA. The current 638-square-foot renovated retail space is only the beginning of a 4-phase plan, including space expansion and also an educational component that would tap into rich and diverse HBCU alumni who may be interested in mentoring, coaching, or teaching opportunities with community youth. The walls of the space are quickly filling up with nostalgic photos of HBCU students, athletics, and cultural events through the years. Forte, who also serves as the museum's Executive Director, also describes the presence of artifacts such as one of the first copies of Ebony magazine and an original Jet Magazine that was published at the time of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the meantime, the museum would like to host school groups and expose students to a taste of HBCU culture. "We want to bridge the gap for those who might not know about historically Black college and universities' stories," said Forte. The museum is also committed to engaging HBCU students and alumni from all ethnicities and backgrounds as current HBCU student bodies are more diverse than they were in years past.

In a time when many HBCUs are experiencing financial struggles, Forte has been transparent in acknowledging this reality and doesn’t want to single out any particular institution for museum funding. The museum has been largely funded by Forte and his family thus far. "The planning for this has been going on for a long time. But [the financial struggles] make it ever so much more important to have it now, so people understand exactly how important HBCUs are not just for the people attending them but for culture in general," Forte said. 

A larger "grand opening" for the museum is anticipated to happen during late March/early April. Follow @HBCUmusuem for more info and to keep up with this evolving effort.