Today I turn this space over to my esteemed Freethought Blogs comrade Abe Drayton, who writes at Oceanoxia. Abe posted today about a Black history issue that is both important and urgent, and deserves the widest possible audience. It is posted here in its entirety, with Abe’s kind permission.
“The National Black Doll Museum has a three-fold mission: to nurture self-esteem, to promote cultural diversity, and to preserve the history of black dolls by educating the public on their significance.” – Mission statement of The National Black Doll Museum of History and Culture
I only recently learned about this interesting museum, The National Black Doll Museum, that used to be housed in Mansfield, MA. For all I lived in Massachusetts for 12 years, I rarely explored the many small and unusual museums in the area. The NBDMHC has a collection of over 7000 Black dolls, and the oldest dolls are from the late 18th century. This isn’t just about the past, however, as these dolls are equally loved and displayed with Black Panther action figures. Although many doll museums include Black dolls in their collections, prior to 2020, this museum was the only physical museum in the US dedicated to Black dolls specifically.
The museum got its start from the personal collection of the founder, Debra Britt, who used to take her private doll collection on tours to women’s shelters or community centers to share the history and communal heritage as the Doll E Daze Project. The museum, which is a 501(c) 3 non-profit, still supports this community outreach as well as a number of workshops and educational resources. The workshop on the Power of Play looks at the impact of Black dolls on the self-pride and explores the stories of Black activists post-Reconstruction through today; The workshop on African wrap dolls works to preserve this important cultural handcraft; and the museum offers support and assistance for geneology research as well. For a project focused around children’s toys, the staff involved have found ways to connect with many aspects of the Black community at all stages of life.
But, unfortunately for the project, 2020 was a difficult year for them, like so many others. With the lack of school engagements, workshops, or in-person celebrations, the museum lost their space in Mansfield due to lack of funding. However, all is not lost! Attleboro, MA has set aside land for cultural development and is interested in working with the National Black Doll Museum to relocate to the new area. But they need funding to do so. The current phase of fundraising has a goal of $100,000 and a deadline at the end of the month — February is Black History Month after all! So I hope that you, much like myself, find the concept exciting and the project worthwhile, and will help to make the new location a reality. Let’s let this understudied aspect of history have a chance to shine again!
Oh hi it’s me Iris again.
To learn more about the museum’s work, you can visit their site here.
I’m sure I can speak for my colleagues here at Freethought Blogs when I say that we all, without exception, completely understand if you are unable to contribute financially to this fundraiser, but if you can spare a few bucks, please do.
We would also be grateful if you would share this fundraiser on your own platforms/social media. Thank you!
Day 1 of Black History Month 2022 (Lori Teresa Yearwood) is here.
Day 2 (Mallence Bart-Williams) is here.
Day 3 (Emmett Till) is here.
Day 4 (A Tale of Two Citizens) is here.
Day 5 (Trayvon Martin) is here.
Day 6 (Franchesca Ramsey) is here.
Day 7 (National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and the Black Aids Institute) is here.
Day 8 (extreme racial disparities in marijuana arrests) is here.
Day 9 (Summer of Soul/1969 Harlem Cultural Festival) is here.
Day 10 (current and historic racist domestic terrorism, Steve Phillips/Democracy in Color) is here.
Day 11 (Gee’s Bend Quilters) is here.
Day 12 (egregious anti-Black (& anti LGBTQ+) behavior at a NY State high school is here.
Day 13 (Erin Jackson, 1st Black woman to win Olympic gold medal in speedskating) is here.
Day 14 (Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions) is here.
Day 15 (racial inequities in spiking vehicle death rates during the pandemic compound and are compounded by other racial inequities, and The New York Times buries the lede) is here.
Day 16 (criminalizing protest/Color of Change) is here.
Day 17 (Flo Kennedy) is here.
Day 18 (3 news stories on the same day regarding police killings of Black people) is here.
Day 19 (Andrew Joseph III/qualified immunity) is here.
Day 20 (Dr. Catherine L. Pugh/”There Is No Such Thing As A White Ally”) is here.
Day 21 (Black cowboys, Black rodeo and photographer Justin Hardiman) is here.