Bernard and Shirley Kinsey are African American art collectors who have used their love of black art and history to raise money for many organizations. The Kinsey Collection of art has been on display all over the country, including at the Smithsonian.  It includes a collective display of black history and artifacts, spanning 400 years. Their collection tells stories of the little known facts, like the one of Leo Africanus in 1600, or Ignatius Sancho, who was born on a slave ship in 1792 and later became a great composer and opera singer.

The Kinsey’s collection became known in 2006 in the “America, I Am” exhibit. It includes artwork from famous black artists such as Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Aaron Douglas, Sam Gilliam, Palmer Hayden, Richard Hunt, Lois Mailou Jones, Artis Lane, Richard Mayhew, James Porter and Henry O. Tanner. It is split into sections:

Stories of Slavery and Freedom, Freedom Struggles—Military Stories and Political Stories, Freedom to Celebrate Place, Identity and Family, Remembering the Faces of a People and Remembering and Connecting with Africa. To illustrate the second section, the Kinsey’s have presented items like a 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers Parade Flag, from around the year 1889.

A book called The Kinsey Collection is available to view pieces from their collection. It is currently being used to teach black history to 3.6 million children in the state of Florida. The couple, who has been married for nearly 50 years, will release an iPad application next year.  While their collection features many rare historical artifacts, certain items, like propaganda and paraphernalia from the KKK is not a favorite of Shirley Kinsey’s and the articles are limited to nonexistent.

The Kinsey’s contribution to African American history is not limited to a collection of artifacts and photographs. Shirley Kinsey was a part of protest at her alma mater, Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida. She was arrested at age 17 during a student protest.

The collection of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey “Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, Where Art and History Intersect” will be on tour in additional cities starting February 2013.

For more on The Kinsey Collection of African-American history, go to

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