Black History Month is a time set aside to remember, recognize, and celebrate the achievements by African Americans throughout history. The next time you visit The Children’s Museum, be on the lookout for these five objects. They have connections with men and women who broke records and shattered stereotypes. We hope they inspire you.
1. Replica of Ruby Bridges’s 1st Grade classroom
Ruby Bridges helped change our country when she became one of the first African American students to integrate the all-white school system in New Orleans. You can hear her story and explore a replica of her 1st Grade classroom in The Power of Children: Making a Difference®.
While you’re visiting Ruby’s gallery, be sure to look for the display case featuring Oscar Robertson. He and his basketball team from Crispus Attucks changed the face of Hoosier Hysteria in 1955 when they became the first all-black team to win an Indiana state basketball championship. In fact, they were the first all-black team in the entire country to win a state basketball championship.
2. Items from the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company
Madam Walker's beauty products helped change African American society. She also had a tremendous influence on Indianapolis. You can find an advertisement, product tins, and other items that honor her legacy in a display case outside of the BarbieTM: You Can Be AnythingTM: The Experience exhibit.
3. Replica of Lieutenant Uhura costume
Nichelle Nichols is known throughout the world for the character she played on Star Trek—Lieutenant Uhura. She was a television pioneer. She was the first African American woman to be featured on television who was not stereotyped as a servant or a maid. She also blazed trails when her character kissed William Shatner’s Captain Kirk on national television. It’s believed to be the first scripted interracial kiss viewed on television.
When she told Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that she was going to leave Star Trek for a Broadway production, he convinced her to continue in her role as Uhura. “The world sees us for the first time as we should be seen,” he told her. Dr. King helped her realize how much of a role model she had become.
A replica of Lieutenant Uhura's famous costumes is on display in the Schaefer Planetarium and Space Object Theater inside Beyond Spaceship Earth.
4. Race car driven by Willy T. Ribbs
Willy T. Ribbs was the first African American to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. The car he drove in the 1993 Indy 500 is on display in The World of Sport in the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience®.
5. Maxi dress designed by Stephen Burrows
Stephen Burrows was one of the first African American designers to come to prominence in the fashion world. His bright colored creations with lettuce edging were part of the New York disco scene in the 1970s. You can see one of his jersey knit maxi dresses—and other pop cultural artifacts—in American POP.
Here are other opportunities to be inspired by African American groundbreakers and trailblazers.
Women Changing the World program
Get up close and personal with inspirational women, including Ella Fitzgerald®, Laurie Hernandez, and Katherine Johnson in the Women Changing the World program inside BarbieTMYou Can Be AnythingTM: The Experience.
Making WAVES—Social Justice in Action program
Discover how to use your Words, Actions, Voice, and Education to make a change in the Making WAVES—Social Justice in Action program inside The Power of Children: Making a Difference®.
Old National Bank Sports Legends Avenue of Champions
The outdoor areas of the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience® are closed for the season. But once they reopen on March 13, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about African American athletes like Tamika Catchings and Wilma Rudolph who impacted American culture through sports. The Old National Bank Sports Legends Avenue of Champions is included with museum admission.
Celebrating diversity all year long
In our pursuit to make our communities kinder, stronger, and more compassionate, we celebrate groundbreaking, trailblazing, and extraordinary achievements of African Americans all year long through our programs, exhibits, and artifacts. We hope you’ll join us throughout the year.