By Monica Peters
Vashti Dubois is making history with her Colored Girls Museum located in Germantown.
It is possibly the first museum of its kind in the nation and you don’t have to be an Oprah or Michelle Obama to be honored in this museum. The museum, also holding its Women’s Her-story Month event on March 20, celebrates the “ordinary” extraordinary colored girl.
Dubois makes it clear, “Ain’t nothing but love for the colored girls in here.”
She also stresses that the museum is not only for colored girls but for anyone who is ready for a conscious revolution and has an appreciation for seeing the world through the lens of “colored girlism.”
“People seldom hold us up even as collective,” referring to society’s lack of acknowledgement of women of color’s accomplishment and struggles.
“You take care of your family. You stand for your friends and communities. In spite all of the insanities, history, heavy weight that would keep you down, in spite of–you get up every day.”
The Brooklyn transplant came up with the idea of a memoir museum for colored girls while a sophomore majoring in Women’s Studies at Wesleyan University.
The museum, based in Dubois’s home, welcomes visitors with a display of unique artifacts including a host of rooms reflecting different periods in the story of Black women in Philadelphia.
“Honestly, I said I don’t have much. But, I do have love,” reflected Dubois discussing her desire to start the museum which opened last year.
The museum, located in Dubois’ home, honors the stories, experiences, and history of colored girls. The museum initiates the ordinary” object—submitted by women themselves that represent an aspect of their stories and personal histories that are important and meaningful to them. Memoirs, submitted in any form, as well as objects of personal and historic significance are considered as valuable.
The catalyst that compelled Dubois to activate the museum was her own experience nearly two years ago when her husband passed away in a car accident.
“I’m a literacy coach. I’m a mom, a friend to many,” noting that the normalcy of her life was “knocked off line” and many things didn’t get done while she recovered from the loss of her husband.
While getting back into the swing of things, Dubois had an epiphany about the extent to how much the community depends on Black women.
“I realized that so many people rely on the colored girl for so many things they don’t even know they rely on her. When she gets knocked off line–whole bunch of people get knocked off line.
“People have become dependent and taken it for granted,” referring to colored women’s support and roles as the sole and sometimes only pillars in their communities.
On March 20, the museum continues its celebration and presentation of Women’s Her-story Month from noon to 4 p.m. with a live tribute to artist Barbara Jane Bullock who lives and works in Germantown. Not only will the celebration highlight Bullock as an internationally celebrated artist and contributions to the art community, but her contributions as an “ordinary” sister, friend and educator.
About the Museum
The Colored Girls Museum, 4613 Newhall St. Museum hours are Sundays noon to 4 p.m. Mar. 20 is Women’s Her-story Month Tribute to Barbara Bullock. Suggested donation: $10. Info: www.thecoloredgirlsmuseum.com