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"Proclaiming Colorado's Black History" : Museum exhibit in Boulder will run for 2 years

Boulder's Black community goes back almost two centuries
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Posted at 12:18 PM, Sep 29, 2023

Census data shows the Black population in Boulder was 1.3 percent in 2020. But the city’s Black community has a history going back almost two centuries. Some of those stories will be highlighted in a new exhibit at the Museum of Boulder, “Proclaiming Colorado’s Black History.”

Museum of Boulder education director Emily Zinn said the exhibit will cover more than just the “firsts” or biggest stories.

“We look at those who were enslaved in Colorado, we look at those who were liberated slaves who built businesses and whole economies in some cases, owned mines, like the Sugarloaf Mine,” Zinn said.

One of the most prominent visual features of the exhibit will be a replica of Boulder’s Second Baptist Church. Nine Black parishioners started the church in 1908.

“I moved here back in 1975 and the first place people told me, you need to go to Second Baptist Church,” said Arthurenia Hawkins, a volunteer for the exhibit.

Hawkins was a teacher at Fairview High School in Boulder at at time when there were few teachers of color in the district. She hopes the exhibit will bring different people in the community together.

“You have to know your history, and here we have a history that some people do not know anything about,” she said.

There will be a section on athletics, which have been credited with bringing more diversity to the University of Colorado campus. Several black football players from the 1960’s recorded oral histories for the exhibit, including Eric Harris, who was part of the 1969 team that played the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee.

Minister Glenda Strong Robinson said Memphis was a segregated city and black players weren’t allowed to eat or stay where the white players could.

“The (CU) team said if they can’t go and stay there, we won’t stay, if they can’t eat here we won’t eat here,” she said.

The CU Buffs beat Alabama, a team that would not add a black player until 1971. Strong Robinson believes the CU fight song came alive at that bowl game,

“Shoulder to shoulder, fight, fight, fight,” she said.

"Proclaming Colorado’s Black History" will be on display at the Museum of Boulder through September of 2025.


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