Mobile Black history museum stuns visitors at Daytona's Juneteenth event – Daytona Beach News-Journal

Science & Technology

DAYTONA BEACH — At first glance, Linda McGee wasn’t entirely sure what she was looking at inside the Midtown Cultural and Educational Center.
“Angela, what is this right here?” McGee asked her longtime friend Angela Jennings, owner of the Sankofa African American Museum on Wheels.
“It’s called the runaway collar,” Jennings told McGee.
Nearby was another runaway collar, this one with bells attached.
“So they know where you are,” Jennings said. 
McGee, who’s chaired the Daytona Beach Juneteenth Festival Committee for nearly a quarter-century, looked around the room in awe.
“It’s history that can’t be forgotten,” McGee said.
Saturday’s event at Cypress Street Park marked the return of the Juneteenth Festival. It was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated remembrance of the ending of slavery in the United States, according to the nonprofit Society for Public Health Education.
President Joe Biden last year signed a Senate bill into law, making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
McGee said watching the mobile museum expand over the years had a significant impact on her life.
McGee said she worries about how much younger generations are truly learning about history, given the efforts of some politicians to sanitize the most gruesome parts of America’s history.
“If they never know about it or understand it, they repeat it,” McGee said.
The artifacts and displays included in Jennings’ mobile museum cover a few hundred years’ worth of African-American history.
Jennings started the museum more than 25 years ago, motivated by the lack of knowledge her nephew, a straight-A junior in high school, had at that point in time of Black history.
She’s traveled to Africa, the Caribbean and Europe for pieces, and her museum has spent time in all 50 states.
“A lot of people are just in disbelief” when they see the collection, Jennings said.
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That was the state South Daytona resident Timothy Hamm was in Saturday afternoon upon walking inside the Midtown Cultural and Educational Center.
“It’s a lot to take in,” Hamm, 37, said. “A lot of us don’t know where we come from; a lot of us don’t know what it took to get where we are today, and some people think that there’s no hope.”
For Jennings, the result of maintaining hope was on display outside of the building at Cypress Street Park.
Hundreds of residents visited the park off George Engram Boulevard on Saturday for the city’s Juneteenth celebration featuring food, vendors and live entertainment, including a dance troupe from Royal Pointe Dance Academy.
Despite an audio malfunction, the dancers, girls between the ages of 7 and 12, carried on with encouragement and timed clapping from the crowd that gave them a bit of a beat to which they could keep moving.
“As performers, you go through so many things,” Stacey Speller, the Latin dance instructor at the academy, said.
Speller said the troupe, which includes her 7-year-old daughter Selina, kept going even when the music cut out.
“I’m really proud of them,” Speller said.

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