FAMU President, Students, Staff Tour Kinsey Collection at SoFi Stadium

January 30, 2023
Robinson & Kinseys
FAMU President, Students, Staff Tour Kinsey Collection at SoFi Stadium

(from left) President Robinson, First Lady Sharon Robinson, Shirley, Bernard and Khalil Kinsey.

Los Angeles, Calif. – Florida A&M University (FAMU) President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., student leaders, alumni, and some staff visited the Kinsey Collection exhibit at SoFi Stadium Friday.

The exhibit, which includes about 10 percent of the entire collection of FAMU alumni Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, and their son Khalil Kinsey, has been on view in 100,000 square feet of the 70,000-seat arena since Superbowl LVI in 2022. 

The FAMU delegation in Los Angeles for the Black College Expo received a narrated tour of the exhibit from Bernard and Khalil Kinsey. President Robinson, who has seen earlier versions of the exhibition in Tallahassee, at the Smithsonian, at Pepperdine University, and elsewhere, was wowed.

“This is just incredible. I can’t tell you how impressed I am.  The students and alums who are with us should feel this is something special,” Robinson said. “It makes me feel wonderful to be part of an institution that produces graduates like this.”

FAMU DelegationFAMU administrators, staff, students and alumni with the Kinseys at SoFi Stadium.    

Given its placement at the LA Rams home stadium and site of the major concerts and other signature events, the collection of African American art and artifacts is a “trojan horse” to pass on knowledge of African American history.

“This is probably the most dynamic exhibition we’ve done outside Disney World. This provides the opportunity for more folks to come through without having to pay a million dollars, to be able to see themselves on the walls of such an incredible venue,” said Khalil Kinsey, chief curator and creative director of the Kinsey Collection. “This is our charge. For me, the work that we do has been life-changing.”

The exhibit is a journey in three parts: historical records, fine art, and “Continuum,” a display of art from African American Los Angeles area-based artists.  

On display was an original manuscript of Phillis Wheatley’s  “Poems on Various Subjects, Moral and Religious,” the first published book of poetry by an African American. 

Kinsey CollectionArt work on display as part of the Kinsey Collection exhibit.

Among the other pieces on display was the earliest known Black baptismal record from St. Augustine, Florida, in 1595. The document recorded the January 5, 1595 baptism of Estebana, the daughter of Gratia, an enslaved woman in the early Spanish settlement.

A black and white portrait of a Black couple shows them dignified and majestic in their Sunday best. One of the newer additions to the collection is a Pullman porter jacket, cap and hand brush, donated by the daughter of former Pullman porter Edwin Elijah Dorsey. 

The collection exhibit is an opportunity for those seeking an introduction to Black art. On display are works by the late Ernie Barnes, a retired NFL player turned artist, whose work has been auctioned for millions. His classic, “Slow Drag,” an acrylic painting of a Black couple slow dancing, is also on display.

Among the items on view at SoFi, were 10 issues of Crisis magazine, when W.E.B. Dubois edited the NAACP publication. The collection also includes a first edition of Dubois’ classic, “Souls of Black Folks.” 

It was an emotional visit for Student Government Association (SGA) President Zachary C. Bell, SGA Vice President Makira Burns, and Miss FAMU Aliya Everett. Bell recalls meeting Kinsey last fall at the Florida Classic and learning about the Kinsey Collection for the first time.

KinseysSGA President Zachary Bell, SGA Vice President Makira Burns and Sharon Robinson listen as Bernard Kinsey discusses the Kinsey Collection at SoFi Stadium.

“This is a full circle experience for me to come and see it in person. I try not to get emotional,” said Bell. “Every FAMU student can benefit from knowing this was created by Rattlers. I look forward to returning to school and sharing the great things you guys are doing,” Bell told the Kinseys.

The Collection has been on display in scores of cities and venues. It showed in Florida State University Panama City campus in 2022.  

“We are trying to put a line through these myths. We have been omitted from our history. We are striving to put us back in the picture,” said Bernard Kinsey. “There’s a story that made America, and there’s a story America made up.”