The Kinsey Collection comes to the Valley

Shirley Kinsey took to the podium to thanks those who came out and to share a piece of her own families history on the origins of the collection.
Shirley Kinsey took to the podium to thank those who came out and to share a piece of her own family’s history on the origins of the collection.

EL CENTRO - Southwest High School in El Centro hosted Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, October 25, as they displayed their lifetime collections of African-American art treasures in the Jimmie Cannon Theater Tuesday evening. The collection contained rare artifacts, books, letters, manuscripts, and photographs which portrayed the untold story of the African-American experience from 1595 to modern day.

“By living a life of no regrets and following the message of our collection, it is incredible to see all the people in the audience out there tonight who came to show interest and support,” said Shirley Kinsey. “We are looking forward to possibly meeting you all tonight.”

The Kinsey Collection shared powerful and previously untold stories of those who dared to dream. Representing more than 400 years of African-American achievement and history, it showcased the best of the American spirit with a nod to ingenuity and innovation.

The treasures included rare finds such as Slave Songs of the United States (1867) and a book by 19-year-old Phillis Wheatley, the first African American to publish poetry.

The collection presentations were mainly by master storyteller Bernard Kinsey. The pieces the couple collected over the years, and even some passed down through family, allowed these artifacts to tell their unique story.

“I am the luckiest guy in the world because I get to work with the two loves of my life,” said Bernard Kinsey, speaking of his collection and his wife. “What we have been doing for the last ten years is talking about what you didn’t learn in high school history.”

For the past seven years, the Kinsey Collection has been on a national tour, visiting museums, including the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. and seen by over three million people. Currently the collection is touring in partnership with Wells Fargo Bank.

Part of the Kinsey’s goal was to incorporate their discoveries through their collection into educational curriculum. Following the collection’s success, the Kinsey Collection book was recognized and adopted by the Florida Department of Education for African- American curriculum to be taught statewide to students K-12.

Kinsey said he hoped audiences would learn what they missed in school concerning the African-American experience and his hope that future curriculum would incorporate his findings to teach students the lost pieces of America history.

After the presentation and a question and answer period, the audience could purchase the Kinsey Collection book signed by both Kinseys.

The Kinsey Collection will make its international debut on December 8 at the Museum and Art Gallery of the University of Hong Kong, and will remain there until February 26 of 2017.

Khalil Kinsey, son of Bernard and Shirley, Curator to their exhibits.
Khalil Kinsey, son of Bernard and Shirley, curator of their exhibits.


Bernard Kinsey presents his families art collection at Jimmie Cannon Theater.
Bernard Kinsey presented his family’s art collection at the Jimmie Cannon Theater.