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Founded by historian, author, and collector Khalid El-Hakim, the Black History 101 Mobile Museum is an expansive collection of over 7,000 original artifacts dating from the trans-Atlantic slave trade era to modern-day hip-hop culture. This remarkable accumulation of Black memorabilia features items that evoke the spirit of the original Soul at the Center program, a celebration of Blackness and the vibrancy and vibrations that the community has created. In 1972 and 1973, Ellis Haizlip was already "hosting the culture" on television with the PBS series SOUL! when he produced the first extended presentation of Black culture and art at Lincoln Center. In addition to concerts devoted to gospel, jazz, rhythm and blues, poetry, theater, and dance, the original Soul at the Center offered special exhibits, including art hung in the theater lobbies, with glass cases displaying crafts, design, and ephemera by Black artists. Other special events included readings by "mediums," fashion shows by Ashanti Designs and WilliWear, and exhibits by Black photographers and Black hairdressers on display near the fountain.
This holistic promotion of the Black aesthetic illustrated Haizlip's belief that Black history touches every part of the culture, impacting everything from style to music and art. Almost five decades later, the Black History 101 Mobile Museum embodies the same aesthetic, continuing the Soul at the Center legacy by offering vinyl records from the progenitors of rap, The Last Poets; newspapers from the Black Panther Party; and even a cover story article on the classic 1971 film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, signed by director/actor Melvin Van Peebles. Exhibited at over 400 colleges, universities, K–12 schools, corporations, libraries, conferences, and cultural events, this “museum on wheels” is one of the most sought-after exhibits of its kind in America.