Happy birthday Margaret Burroughs, the iconic mother of Black museums

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Margaret Burroughs had a vision for Black Americans that they have yet to accept for themselves and as we celebrate her birthday, on Nov. 1 (1917), it is critical that we consider the investments she made on our behalf.

An African American artist and writer, Burroughs founded the DuSable Museum of African American History (1961) — a monumental creation and movement that ultimately spread throughout the country in an effort to preserve the Black mindset and continue to grow creative giants.

Only years ago there was a beach named in Ms. Burroughs honor, recognizing her career commitment to the city of Chicago. Among her achievements, Ms. Burroughs graduated from Chicago Teachers’ College in 1937 and then received an MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1948. During the ’40s she taught art in Chicago elementary schools then later penned a poem and book for the ages entitled What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black?

Seemingly, confusion, cultural identity complex and utter chaos inspired Ms. Burroughs to pen What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black (Reflections of an African-American Mother) in the 60s. At the time, many were uncertain about how and why Black children should be exposed to the vicious lies portrayed in schools and recklessly shoved down their throats. Ms. Burroughs’ roadmap countered with recommendations that offered immense assistance based on her knowledge of art and a myriad of other topics.

It should come as no great surprise that there wasn’t a Black museum prior to Miss Burroughs creation in the great city of Chicago.

Also the birthplace of Ebony magazine, Oscar Brown and Barack Obama‘s presidential run, Chicago has a rich African American history. The great city of Chicago is also the home of Minister Louis Farrakhan, Jessie Jackson and will forever be remembered as home to the equally iconic Black woman who created the first Black museum — Margaret Burroughs.

She painted a picture of who we were, bearing a mindset that we needed to have in order to live, create, teach and share.

She provided a culture absent of the applause of those who had not seen fit to create museums for us by creating her own.

Happy birthday to Margaret Burroughs, the mother of Black museums and Black creativity.

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