Students travel through African American history with museum on wheels

by Gray Johnson ’16, Contributing Writer

SANKOFA is a Ghanaian term meaning “use the wisdom of the past to build the future.” On Thursday, Furman students were able to learn about this term and its history through Angela Jennings’ SANKOFA Museum on Wheels.

The museum items and displays lined the walls of the Watkins Room in the Trone Center.

Students first viewed the museum displays on their own for 20 minutes. History professor Marian Strobel then gave an introduction commenting on the richness and importance of African American history.

Angela Jennings asked students to walk with her as she took them through the museum, which she established in 1995.

“I’m here to show you how the African American became a negro in America,” Jennings said.

The displays and items began with the Ashanti tribe in Ghana, when people began to travel to Africa for slaves to take back on the Middle Passage.

The museum went on to cover everything from the slave ships to America to the presidency of Barack Obama.

It featured well known abolitionists such as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Doulgass, while also mentioning people and groups who might have been lesser known.

Jennings told stories of heroic African Americans, such as a slave who started a mutiny on one of the slave ships on the Middle Passage and was able to free the slaves.

The display had a special section dedicated to inventions, showing significant items crafted by African Americans and used in daily life.

A large portion of the museum was dedicated to the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

While the museum displayed the triumphs of African Americans, it also presented their trials. Gruesome pictures of lynchings were shown to convey the atrocities that were experienced by African Americans.

Jennings also had slave chains and slave tags from the slavery era in Charleston, South Carolina.

She closed the presentation with a drama piece about education, in which Jennings acted as three different characters: a five year old girl, her great grandfather, and her great grandfather’s slave master.

In the drama piece, the great grandfather told the little girl the story of when his slave master caught him trying to read and gouged out his eyes as punishment.

“Promise me you will read every book, cover to cover,” Jennings said, acting as the great grandfather speaking to the little girl.