From creator of refrigerator to MLK, Bay Area Black history museum celebrates achievements

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- As we celebrate Black History Month, volunteers are busy setting up a unique pop-up museum on the Peninsula with an unusual history.

What started as a school project has grown into a collection so large that all of it can't be displayed at one time.

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A Belmont grandmother has been at this for 25 years.

You can say this is Carolyn Hoskins' passion. 25 years ago, her grandson Domini asked her who else is worth studying besides Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during Black History Month.
"I never thought about that myself and so from that question, the answer is everything that you see here today," Mrs. Hoskins said.

It started as a school project to assemble an exhibit. The collection numbers are in the thousands now, which she has on display in donated space in downtown Redwood City this month. The 20,000 square foot former retail store opens Saturday, free to the public and to school groups. Volunteers are helping to set up the displays.

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Most of us are familiar with the formidable contributions of Black athletes and Black entertainers, but what many visitors to the collection are amazed by are the contributions of Black inventors.

It's that section that draws the most attention as visitors learn potato chips, the refrigerator, and a variety of devices were all invented by Black people.
"It's just amazing that these accomplishments were made by a race of people that it was illegal for them to be able to learn to read and write," she said.

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Other sections pay tribute to politicians, authors, and women leaders. There are positive images and a few negative ones that reflect stereotypes of the past. One area highlights Mrs. Hoskins' late husband, 49er Bob Hoskins.

Cari Pang Chen is a friend and volunteer.

"The more time we take to really connect with each other on a personal basis, but also to understand everything that got us to where we are and where we came from, I think that will help us understand each other and support each other better," she said.

The Domini Hoskins Black History Museum and Learning Center opens Saturday, Feb. 5, at 890 Jefferson Avenue in Redwood City. It will be open daily, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. but closed Mondays. A donation of $5 per person is requested.

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