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A Pop-Up Black History Museum Receives $2 Million to Find a Home in Redwood City

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Group of seven people smiling and holding giant check
Carolyn Hoskins, third from left, holds a ceremonial check from Senator Josh Becker (center) at the Domini Hoskins Black History Museum. (Milla Khano/San Mateo County Event Center)

Senator Josh Becker of Menlo Park presented a symbolic $2 million check to Carolyn Hoskins on Feb. 2, kicking off Black History Month at the Domini Hoskins Black History Museum and setting the traveling collection on a path towards a permanent home.

As reported in The Almanac, Becker negotiated for the funding in the state Senate last year. “These funds will ensure that this revered pillar of our community remains accessible and the lessons that it provides will continue to be taught,” Becker said in his office’s press release.

The San Mateo County Event Center, which serves as the fiscal agent for the museum, announced its hope of turning the pop-up museum’s current location, Redwood City’s 890 Jefferson Ave., into a year-round learning center.

“The Domini Hoskins Black History Museum and Learning Center is a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives and the importance of preserving and sharing Black history all year, not just for a designated month,” said CEO Dana Stoehr in a San Mateo County Event Center press release.

The music display at the Domini Hoskins Black History Museum. (Milla Khano/San Mateo County Event Center)

The idea for the museum came to Hoskins in 1997, while helping her grandson Domini with a Black History Month assignment. After two years of reports on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., young Domini was fed up.

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“His powerful question to me was, ‘Weren’t there any other famous Black people that did anything?’” Hoskins remembers in a 2023 video. “In answer to his question, you are going to see 22,000 square feet of African American history.”

The Domini Hoskins Black History Museum holds objects that represent Black experience in America from slavery to the present day, objects Hoskins and her family have painstakingly collected themselves. Sections include inventions (“Thank you George Crum for the potato chips!” says Hoskins), sports memorabilia, music, politics and toys. For years, the museum has been packed away at the end of February, appearing in different locations, or in fragments, as Hoskins visits classrooms and community events.

The museum has a slate of programming and special events planned for February, including a Super Bowl tailgate party (Hoskins’ late husband, Robert “Bob” Hoskins, played for the 49ers in the ’60s and ’70s), a day of book giveaways and a Sunday Best Gospel Day, with a prize for best hat.

“The whole point is education,” Hoskins said at the Feb. 2 ceremony. “I am here to toil and tell my story about my history, which is so rich, and to let people know that African Americans have contributed so much to this great country.”

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