DuSable Museum celebrates MLK Day with music, movies, crafts, speeches

SHARE DuSable Museum celebrates MLK Day with music, movies, crafts, speeches

Xaria Howard, 13 (from left), Adam Howard, 14, and Tayina Howard, 16. The three Rogers Park siblings volunteered with Americorps on MLK Day Monday at the DuSable Museum. | Provided photo

Given that Chicago’s DuSable Museum is named after a man born on the island that would become known as Haiti — a country President Donald Trump is said to have insulted during a meeting on immigration — the president is welcome to come in for a visit and get an education about people of African heritage, the museum’s chief said on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The DuSable Museum of African American history was teaching visitors Monday about King’s legacy, and “We welcome an opportunity to educate the president as well,” said Perri Irmer, president and CEO of the Hyde Park institution.

In fact, the museum had 1,700 visitors Monday, a record high for the King holiday. Part of the reason for the surge was “the controversial, racist comments that the president made,” Irmer said. “A lot of people really want to learn” about African-American history as a result.

“When the president disparages Haitians and Africans, he’s also disparaging black Americans, brown Americans and people of color,” she said, whose “true history . . . is one of greatness, resilience, creativity, endurance and pride.”

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has reported that Trump referred to some African nations as “shithole countries” during an Oval Office meeting last Thursday on a bipartisan immigration deal, and that he also questioned the admission of people from Haiti and El Salvador to the U.S.

C.J. Johnson, 4 (left), his sister Nichelle, 7, and mom Aleia did crafts at DuSable Museum Monday. | Provided photo

C.J. Johnson, 4 (left), his sister Nichelle, 7, and mom Aleia did crafts at DuSable Museum Monday. | Provided photo

At DuSable on Monday, San Francisco-area engineer Jarret Cooper, 50, said he reacted warily when he heard President Trump said on Sunday, “I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”

Cooper said his thought was: “That’s what every racist says.”

A new, free Digital DuSable mobile app, rolled out Monday, also helped increase museum attendance, Irmer said. The app interprets paintings and artifacts and features a scavenger hunt.

“It dismisses with the old-fashioned headsets,” Irmer said. “This is a mobile app function that does the same thing, only better.”

Visitor Nichelle Johnson, 7, a student at Hampton grade school, said she learned about King from her mom Aleia, a CPS security employee. “I know he had lots of marches, and he had a famous speech, ‘I Have a Dream,’ ” she said. “He wanted freedom for black people.”

“It’s his birthday,” said her brother C.J., 4.

Some commemorate the King holiday with public service. Rogers Park residents and siblings Tayina Howard, 16, Adam Howard, 14, and Xaria Howard, 13, were volunteering at the museum Monday. King “did so much for us,” Xaria said.

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