By Lee Hubbard
While the rain stormed down all day in the Jefferson Park area of Los Angeles, it could not damper the excitement of the grand opening of the Hidden History Museum of Black culture, this past weekend.
Various actors and celebrities such as Vivica A. Fox, and hundreds of other people, were on hand to celebrate the last weekend of Black History Month. Founded by Tariq Nasheed, an award-winning documentary film producer and New York Times best-selling author, the Hidden History Museum highlights current and past historical Black figures from freedom fighters, to inventors, master teachers, to founding pioneers in Black California, as well as Hip-Hop culture on the West Coast.
One example of this is an exhibit that looks at the naming of the state California, which was named after Califa, a queen who was a Black Moor. The Spanish writer Garci Rodriguez wrote the novel in 1500, and although Califa was a fictional character, when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, founded it in 1542, he named the area after the character in the novel.
“Stories like this are featured in the museum and it’s needed,” said Utopia Hammond, a San Francisco resident, who came to the grand opening. “People need to know our Black history and this museum features things and people that aren’t normally talked about and or featured in other museums.”
“I decided to start this museum after I was driving down Crenshaw Boulevard and saw that people were using the site where Nipsey Hussle got shot and killed as a tourist attraction,” said Nasheed. “On any given day, you can see crowds of people taking pictures in front of the mural that has Nipsey’s face on it.”
Hussle was a popular and emerging rap artist who was just coming into national acclaim when he was shot down in front of his clothing store March 31, 2019. The makeshift Nipsey Hussle memorial and daily scene behind it pushed Nasheed to create a place where people can see positive affirmations of black culture and tell the stories of black history that aren’t told.
“We need to create institutions that we as Black people and or Black groups own and control the narrative,” said Nasheed.
People came from all over the country for the grand opening. They also got to watch the premiere of Nasheed’s new documentary film, “American Maroon,” which looks at the Black people who maintained hidden communities while fighting with slave-owning colonizers pre- Civil War.
Nasheed spent just under $2 million to build the Hidden History Museum. Half of the money was raised in a month by a Black grassroots crowdfunding effort Nasheed started using his YouTube channel Tariq Radio, and other social media platforms. This, along with some of his personal funds were used to buy the building that houses the museum.
“The Black grassroots supported my vision and this effort,” said Nasheed. “We wanted to have the museum over in Leimert Park, a black district in LA, but when we tried to buy property there were several roadblocks, before we got to Jefferson Park.”
The Hidden History Museum is located at 2131 W Jefferson Blvd. in Los Angeles Ca. For more information, go to http://www.hiddenhistorymuseum.com