Kinsey Family Discusses Future and Legacy

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By: WCTV Eyewitness News
February 12, 2016

Our final story in our series on the Kinsey Collection had the Kinsey family thinking about the future and their legacy.

Who knew that these two kids from Florida A&M would wind up going away and coming back in this fashion? It's one thing to come back for homecoming and the festivities,” says Shirley Kinsey. “It's another to come back and be the focus of why you're here. So it's a pretty special feeling."

Bernard and Shirley say their story has come full circle.

“We had this notion even as youngsters that we wanted to do more," says Bernard.

The Kinsey’s world-renowned collection of documents, paintings and sculptures is now on display at Florida A&M.

As the couple strolled through campus more than 50 years after graduating, we discovered their quest to uncover more never ends.

"I get so excited because I learn so much,” says Bernard. “It's called discovery. Discovery leads to learning. And that's what we have to be as individuals to learn to grow. And that's what this is about."

Florida A&M President Elmira Mangum echoes that sentiment and takes it a step further. "For them to spend their precious resources and thinking about our students and to give them this exposure many of these pieces they would never see or never have an opportunity to even talk about, they get a chance to talk to the collector, and know that they came from the same experience they're getting here at FAMU."

Just being with the Kinsey family is an experience. Their legacy and lesson plan expands beyond the classroom. “What we wanted to do was to take what we had found successful fundraising techniques and employ them here."

Shirley continues, "The one thing about you that I would always say…if he said he was going to do something, he did it. It's been the same way with acquiring these pieces. If he's going to do it, he's going to do it right, and he's going to find out as much about it as he possibly can."
The Kinsey’s say their collection is all about educating, motivating and inspiration. Bernard closed with this thought: "the only thing new is the history you don't know."

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
February 11, 2016

All week, WCTV has introduced you to the Kinsey collection.

Visiting the collection not only brings history to life, it also gives insight into the Kinsey’s themselves.

That's because their journey started in Tallahassee in the 1960's.
During a time of civil unrest and fighting for equal rights, two young kids meet on FAMU’s campus.

Little did they know, but soon they'd start building a life beyond their wildest dreams.

"It's another thing to come back and be the focus of why you're here. It's a pretty special feeling actually," Shirley Kinsey said.

The road leading back to Florida A and M University begins almost 52 years ago when Bernard Kinsey meets Shirley Pooler after she's arrested during a protest.

"He was an upperclassman and I was a freshman and I was only here to do my studies. I was not here to date, but him, being who he is, he won me over and we started dating," Shirley said.

The two later married and moved to Los Angeles for work. Over time, both became very successful in the business world.

"With a partner like this, how are you going to mess it up? See, one of the things we tell young people is the biggest decision you have to make is picking your partner. Period. If you get that one right, you can mess up on a lot of other things because you've got a home run," Bernard Kinsey said.

That home run turned into a grand slam when their son, Khalil, was born.

As a couple, the Kinsey's were always collecting African American art and a few historical documents. But it was Khalil's third grade family history report that really sparked their desire to learn more about their ancestors.

"He came home and he said, Mom, James, there literally was a kid in his class whose parents were from England, James can go back to the Mayflower and Nancy can go back to Italy and Juan can go back to Mexico or Spain and so he started asking questions that we couldn't answer," Shirley said.

After that, the Kinsey's got to work, trying to fill-in those missing blanks.
Soon, people started telling them to share these pieces and stories with the community.

That nudge was all they needed to create the Kinsey Collection.

"This has been a labor of love. Not just for us, but to have our son, Khalil, step into this, is just a blessing,” Bernard said.

A small project, started by Bernard and Shirley, just continues to grow.
Its future is now largely in the hands of Khalil, freeing up Bernard and his bride of 49 years.

"We have a saying, if you leave me, I'm coming with you. So you might as well stay," Bernard said.

Their commitment and their cause are now on display in the place where their story began.

An experience, they said both humbles and fills them with pride.
A reality, their younger selves could never have imagined.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
February 10, 2016

[VIDEO]: All this week, WCTV Anchors A.J. Hilton and Abby Walton have been bringing you an in-depth look at a new exhibit at Florida A & M University. It’s called The Kinsey Collection.

A few weeks ago, the collection’s creators, Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, came to Tallahassee for the exhibit’s unveiling. During that time, they gave A.J. and Abby a guided tour of the collection, showing them their favorite pieces.

They also explained their passion for art and history and why The Kinsey Collection means so much to them.

By: A.J. Hilton
February 9, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- If a picture is worth a thousand words, what's the message in 500 pieces of artwork?

In the case of the Kinsey Collection, a history they want to be seen and told. Bernard and his wife Shirley created the collection, part of which will be on display at FAMU through March. But before the collection went on display, Bernard, Shirley and son Kahlil had to do some teaching.

A group of FAMU students are learning. But this isn't a lecture, or a seminar, and this lesson wasn't in any classroom.

"I do want to integrate anything here in my personal history," says FAMU student Allika Williams. She is one of a handful of volunteers trained about the collection by the Kinsey Family. She calls it personal.

"I was really interested in the legacy here. I'm not able to trace back my lineage to any part of Africa. To be a part of this collection, it's like embracing the entire history, and knowing the truth about where we came from, and we came from a place of strength… and just a lot of interesting things," said Williams.

"The main thing I would like to touch on and give away to visitors who come in here is… this is what our generation needs to see," says fourth year FAMU senior Quadera Allen. "So for me this was really important for me to be here because it kinda connected the puzzle that I didn't get in high school, things of that nature."

As volunteers, Williams, Allen and others will guide you around the collection and point out things you may not have seen.

"You're supposed to learn,” says Allen. “You're supposed to inform everybody you know to come and visit here. Take it home with you. "

There's certainly a lot to see in the two story collection. Allen recommends starting downstairs.

"Starting down here would be the best thing… it gives that foundation. It tells the unsung stories of African-American people, and our history, and what we've done for America.”

History. Paintings. Sculptures. It's easy to get overwhelmed. These two say that's no excuse to not come and learn.

"This is something everybody in Tallahassee should be able to experience. Not just as Rattlers on campus, but everybody, because it's so mind boggling, like wow. This is our history," says Allen.

Telling the story… one piece at a time.

By: Abby Walton
February 8, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Students nationwide are learning about the lives of people like MLK and Malcolm X, as part of Black History Month. Many know their legacies. But the stories of so many other African Americans go untold. Until now.

An art exhibit, called The Kinsey Collection is changing that. The collection is comprised of historical artifacts and art. The exhibit fills in those missing stories.

And there's a unique twist-- It all started in Tallahassee, with the collections creators, Bernard and Shirley Kinsey and their son, Khalil, all attending Florida A & M University.

"What we try to do is really celebrate and share these stories because they're inspirational for everybody. They're American stories," Khalil Kinsey said.

Currently on display at the Foster-Tanner Fine Arts Gallery, the collection may look like any you’ve seen before at a museum. But, many will tell you it’s a way to experience history through the eyes of the Kinsey family.

"What we want you to do is leave here and say, 'I didn't know that,'" Bernard Kinsey said.

The Kinseys' goal with this collection is to educate, motivate and inspire.

After almost a decade, The Kinsey Collection stands at around 500 pieces of historical African American artifacts and art. A journey beginning in the late 1500’s and spanning into the 21st century.

At FAMU’s exhibit, you can see around 150 items. From letters from MLK and Malcolm X, to documents from some of the nation’s first African American lawmakers.

"One thing that we really love is that we were able to acquire letters and envelopes from these senators and congressman and so we have the signatures of them," Khalil Kinsey said.

Several pieces of artwork are making their exhibit debut.

The Kinseys are passionate about this collection because they want to make sure all African Americans, past and present, have a personality, a name, and a voice.

The Kinsey Collection will be on display at the Foster-Tanner Fine Arts Gallery now until March 25th.

The gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the campus of Florida A & M University.

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