Mobile Museum of Black Artifacts visits State House
STATE HOUSE – At the invitation of Rep. Joseph S. Almeida, the Mobile Museum of Black Artifacts rolled up to the State House last week on the first stop of a weeklong tour from Rhode Island to Washington, D.C.
The museum is a 30-foot-long recreational vehicle outfitted inside and out with artifacts and exhibits designed to highlight the history — both struggles and triumphs — of African-Americans. It has been created over the last 2 ½ years by Onna Moniz-John of East Providence, with artifacts from a personal collection she has built over the course of 40 years.
The Rhode Island State House was the first of seven stops Moniz-John made on a tour that begins in Providence Nov. 10, and culminated in Washington, D.C. a week later, where she planned to park the museum at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture and near the White House.
At the State House, the museum was open to the public for free with guided tours, and there was a program featuring speakers, poetry, the singing of the national anthem by Belinda Phillips, and posting of the colors by Girl Scouts. The museum featured a special exhibit called “Proud Patriots” paying tribute to black veterans in honor of Veterans Day the following day.
“This is a great opportunity for us all to get up close and personal with wide category of American history that often gets boiled down to a couple of chapters in school books. There’s a lot more to black history than slavery and the civil rights movement, and I hope Rhode Islanders will take advantage of this chance to check out this collection and learn about our lives, achievements and culture. Onna has spent her lifetime creating this collection, and I’m proud that she will now bring it to the State House to share with all of Rhode Island,” said Representative Almeida (D-Dist. 12, Providence), who helped facilitate the museum’s State House visit, in advance of the event.
Following its State House visit, the museum (driven by Moniz-John’s husband, Alvin J. John) rolled on to the Old State House in Hartford, Conn., the next day, then made stops in Harlem, Jersey City, Philadelphia, and Maryland on its way to Washington, where she plans to stay from the 16th through the 18th.
The museum has previously made visits to the St. Mary Academy Bay View, the East Providence Heritage Festival, University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College, where high school students from Central Falls and East Greenwich visited it. Children who took part in the East Providence Recreation Department’s summer program this year also toured it, and Moniz-John has brought it to places like a Smith Hill barber shop whose owner also promotes greater understanding of black history.
“The collection shows not only the difficult parts of history but, at the same time, highlights the strength of black people. I think that’s important,” said Moniz-John, who said one of the exhibits, “Civil Rights: A Multiracial, Cultural and Religious Event,” seeks to show how people from all walks of life, other races and various religions worked alongside black people during the civil rights movement.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903