African American history exhibit visits Onalaska

ONALASKA, Wis. (WXOW) – A special exhibit was at the Omni Center Sunday showing off African American icons from the era of slavery to the modern day.

The African American History 101 Mobile Museum, founded by Dr. Kahlid el-Hakim, is on a 50 stop tour around the country showing off a handful of the 10,000 items they have.

“This exhibit is called the ‘Signature Series,’” el-Hakim said. “We have over 150 artifacts signed by different historical icons. We have material signed by Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglas, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, all the way up to Colin Kaepernick. It’s important to share all aspects of American history. To be inclusive and make sure that histories that have been marginalized are brought to the center and shared with the public.”

The exhibit came on Juneteenth, which commemorates the last of the slaves that became free about two months after the Civil War. The federal holiday became official in 2021 after President Biden signed it into law.

Cecil Adams, CEO & Founder of the African American Mutual Assistance Program, helps educate and provide diversity through the area. He says that local Juneteenth celebrations date back to 2015, but how they remember the past has changed over the years.

“We had a lot of celebration, eating, singing and dancing,” Adams said. “Then I realized no one is learning anything about history. About the actual struggle that created the celebration of Juneteenth. Today, we’re here with a remembrance through the history of African Americans and their struggles and their accomplishments. How we progressed from Juneteenth original to today.”

The exhibit’s next stop will be on Tuesday in Lansing, Michigan.

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