The ribbon is cut as the Utah chapter of Black Lives
Matter hosts a press conference and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the
opening of the Utah Black History Museum, the state’s first museum
dedicated to local and national African American history at the
Leonardo in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Utah celebrates its Black history with traveling museum

By Wendy Leonard, Deseret News | Posted - Feb. 28, 2021 at 9:56 a.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns have a new and unique opportunity to explore local and national African American history right in their own backyard.

"It's time to learn what you need to know," the Utah chapter of Black Lives Matter says on its Facebook page.

The group's "gigantic museum on wheels" celebrated its opening at the Leonardo on Saturday, featuring educational, inspiring and informative traveling exhibits highlighting local and national Black history.

"Every day thrift stores across America receive donations of objects that display racial imagery — antique advertising cards, collectible salt-and-pepper shakers, vintage children's books and mugs with sports team mascots," the chapter reported. Members spent years gathering materials for its mobile museum, as there aren't many locations in Utah delivering Black history.

Visitors look at a few of the displays as the Utah chapter of Black Lives Matter hosts a press conference and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the Utah Black History Museum, the state's first museum dedicated to local and national African American history at the Leonardo in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021.
Visitors look at a few of the displays as the Utah chapter of Black Lives Matter hosts a press conference and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the Utah Black History Museum, the state's first museum dedicated to local and national African American history at the Leonardo in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

The U.S. census shows that just over 1.4% of Utah's 3.2 million people are Black, though there is no dedicated museum representing such. Black fur traders, including James P. Beckwourth, who is featured in the traveling bus, was in Utah prior to the arrival of Latter-day Saint pioneers. The little-known fact, and others, are also part of the exhibit.

The plan is to use the exhibit's painted school bus to bring important parts of Utah's Black history to students across the state, as well as community centers and other locations.

Amina Schlichter stands in the snow as she attends a press conference by the Utah chapter of Black Lives Matter followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the Utah Black History Museum, the state's first museum dedicated to local and national African American history at the Leonardo in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021.
Amina Schlichter stands in the snow as she attends a press conference by the Utah chapter of Black Lives Matter followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the Utah Black History Museum, the state's first museum dedicated to local and national African American history at the Leonardo in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

"Are these objects harmless reminders of historical attitudes or do they continue to perpetuate negative stereotypes about race? Should thrift stores sell these objects? Or should they be 'sorted out' of the resale environment and discarded," the Utah chapter said about the exhibit.

The exhibit, "Sorting out Race," was created by Utah's Black Chamber of Commerce. Others will follow.

Tickets are required to visit the Utah Black History Museum while it is at the Leonardo and availability is staggered due to COVID-19. For more information or to donate to the museum, visit https://www.facebook.com/utahblackhistorymuseum/.

Wendy Leonard

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