Museum stresses black history all year round

February 13, 2009 12:22:10 PM PST
February is designated Black History Month. But, at one museum on Chicago's South Side, celebrating African-American culture and educating young people about it lasts all year. Peggy Montes founded the Bronzeville Children's Museum.

Hands on lessons in African-American history-- it's the kind of learning experience to be found at the Bronzeville Children's Museum. Montes created it 11 years ago.

"It's so important that they get that kind of foundation laid very early so they build upon it, to know that they will have very great self esteem...anything is positive for them to do," said Montes.

The kindergarten students from Amelia Earhart school. found a great deal of interest in the drum room, along with an exposure to the medical profession, a shopping simulation, a view of healthy eating and exercise and lessons in movie making.

"This a really good opportunity for me as an educator for our children to be able learn about their history, taking it all the way back to Africa, and for them to be so young and be able to relate to the information that's around, it's very meaningful to them," said Kosombia Wilson, teacher.

The emphasis on reading is underscored by the Book of Knowledge, the library that gives kids an opportunity to read when they visit the museum.

Daughter Pia has grown up with the museum.

"My mother, she's definitely committed," said Pia. "It was her dream to build the museum from the ground up, and I have been with her from the very beginning. I'm very proud of her."

In 1998, the museum began life in a room on the lower level of the Evergreen Park Mall. Last August it moved into its new multi-million dollar home.

"It is hard to believe, but then when I see the children coming through the door and the excitement that they have, and to watch them not want to leave...and that's worth all the money in the world, and my dream has been fulfilled," said Peggy Montes.

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