GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – A local business owner and organizer with RAW, a community activist group for people of color and the LGBTQ+ community, has decided to open Grand Junction’s first African history museum.
“This spot right here, we’re going to turn this into Junction‘s first and only black history museum,” said Jay Freeman, owner of Tree House at 304 North Avenue.
The pandemic has had an impact on many businesses, including Tree House. “Taking into account the business climate, the economy here in Grand Junction and I wanted to really make a real difference in the community,” Freeman.
The museum will include the history of indigenous people as well. Freeman said the museum will be interactive with technology, workshops and hands on experiences.
“The education will be more readily available for those actually interested in and really want to gain an understanding and respect for the culture,” said Freeman.
“We’d be interested in partnering with them or collaborating so that we could both do a better job of sharing our history,” said Kaia Michaelis, the Executive Director at the Museums of Western Colorado.
“It’s really difficult to interpret a history you don’t really understand, so in this instance it’s really important for our African-American community to be involved with preserving their own history, to be involved with sharing their own history, helping tease out the things are important to them about that history and sharing it,” said Michaelis, “How I might interpret that might be different than how a black person in our community might interpret it, a native American person in our community might interpret different things that happened in the past differently, so for people to be involved with interpreting their own history is really important.”
“Our history has been taught to us from a different culture and not all of our history has actually been taught,” said Freeman, “We’re gonna make sure it gets done our self, done the right way, done the accurate way.”
According to both Freeman and Michaelis, this is especially important when it comes to educating children.
“We can change a lot of laws, we can protest, we can march but ultimately it’s our responsibility as adults to put in the proper infrastructure and education for the kids that will be running the world 20 years from now, so they won’t have to be having the same discussions,” said Freeman.
“For children who are people of color, to see a museum that reflects the stories of their ancestors, to have those stories told to them other black people is really important and will really help them see their place in history, their place in their community and really how they can have a positive impact on their community as well,” said Michaelis.
“I think it’s going to be big, hopefully we can bridge some gaps and get more understanding of one another’s cultures,” said Freeman.
Freeman said the idea to transform the space just came to him over the weekend.
KREX will continue to follow the creation of this museum and bring you the latest as always.