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Black history on display: Menlo Park museum result of Carolyn Hoskins’ passion
February 17, 2014, 05:00 AM By Angela Swartz Daily Journal

Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
Carolyn Hoskins in the Domini Hoskins Black History Museum, on display this year in Menlo Park.

Hoskins with her son Domini Hoskins, who inspired the museum when he asked about important figures in black history aside from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

With 17,000 square feet of space this year, Carolyn Hoskins is continuing to run her black history pop-up museum despite some hesitance.

This year may be her last though if she can’t find a permanent location for the museum, which will be at 190 Independence St. in Menlo Park until Feb. 28. Her daughter and son helped her set up the museum and learning center in two weeks. She first began displaying her collection of history items about 12 years ago during February, Black History Month.

“I’m frustrated and tired because I have such big dreams about seeing the kids excited about history — it’s not happening,” she said. “Basically, when you put it all together, then you’re here by yourself, it’s very disappointing.”

Hoskins, who was married to the late San Francisco 49ers football player Bob Hoskins, received a “Quiet Hero” award from state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo. She said she really appreciates the awards and honors, but what she really needs is for his help finding a permanent building for her black history collection. She wants to keep it on the Peninsula.

The building she’s using this year was donated by David Bohannon, the owner of the building. She said Menlo Park Mayor Ray Mueller helped her find the location.

Her decision to share her collection was sparked by what she calls “the question” she received from her now 24-year-old grandson Domini, for whom the exhibit is named.

“He had to do a report on Dr. (Martin Luther) King (Jr.) and he asked ‘weren’t there any other famous black people who did anything?,’” she said.

The museum is split into various rooms, each covering different figures, time periods and themes in black history. There’s a White House room; a library; displays with African-American dolls; a room for leaders like Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Malcolm X; a room to honor African American musicians; a room to honor black football players; a room dedicated to soul food; a room for baseball player Willie Mays and another for Jackie Robinson; another for the 49ers Jerry Rice; and others.

“I try to do the best I can without any money,” Hoskins said.

Despite her discouragement, she trudged on and opened the exhibit this year with some encouragement from family and friends.

“It took so long to find a building,” she said. “I was hesitant and going to say no [this year] because I know what it takes to put it together, but I’m just so passionate about the history. So I took a deep breath.”

She notes there are so many people in the Bay Area who are a part of black history who can speak to children, including Teri Jackson, the first African-American woman appointed as a judge to San Francisco’s branch of the Superior Court of California.

“People don’t take advantage of their history and knowledge,” Hoskins said.

To make donations to the museum, send a check made payable to the Domini Hoskins Black History Museum, 951 Old County Road, Box #304 in Belmont. There will also be a Motown fundraiser 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Feb. 22. The museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and it’s free for those under 5.

The exhibit is sponsored by the NFL Alumni Northern California Chapter. For now, she keeps the pieces in storage during the rest of the year, which is expensive, she said. If she discontinues the museum, she said she will distribute the collection to her kids.

In addition to the museum, there will be other Black History Month events throughout the Peninsula. The Black Parents Association of the San Mateo Union High School District is hosting a black history program and talent show. This year’s theme is Unapologetically Black. The program will run 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at Hillsdale High School, 3115 Del Monte St. in San Mateo. Admission to the program is free to the public. If interested in being a vendor, contact the association or visit All proceeds made will go toward scholarships for graduating students.

The NAACP’s San Mateo branch will host the Herby Dawkins Freedom Fund Banquet and 88th Branch Anniversary event 3 p.m.-5 p.m. March 16 at the Elks Lodge, 229 W. 20th Ave. in San Mateo. The keynote speaker will be Alice A. Huffman, president of the California NAACP. For further details contact Robert Moore at (510) 543-4045 or Gladys Young at (650) 343-0345.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105



Tags: black, history, museum, hoskins, mateo, there,

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