Guest speaker makes history come alive

Many Diamond Bar High School students had the opportunity to hear from historian Hardy Brown, who tells the story of slavery and the struggle that African Americans faced in early America come alive through his mobile museum.

The Feb. 20 event took place in the school’s library, and certain classes throughout the day, including English, history and journalism, spent their class periods listening to Brown’s stories and viewing his collection of artifacts. Students also had the opportunity to see the mobile museum during brunch. 

Some of the items that were on display include books, a runaway slave poster, historical documents, a whip and shoes worn by a slave.

While looking at these items, students could slip on gloves to hold and observe the artifacts up close to get a glimpse of what life was like at that time in history.

“What I hope that the students get out of this is that they are asking themselves the question: ‘What do they want history to say about them in 100 to 150 years and how did they help other people?’” Brown said. “That’s what it’s really about; it’s about historical empathy and being able to walk in somebody else’s shoes.”

DBHS faculty and district office members also had the chance to stop by and see the exhibit.

Brown explained many of the artifacts that were on display were handed down from Jerry Gore, who collected many of these items throughout the years and preserved them. When Gore passed away, all of the artifacts that he collected were passed on to the Brown family’s nonprofit organization, The Black Voice Foundation. Brown and his family built on Gore’s collection and continued to tell the story.

Brown has visited other schools and events throughout California to share the story in hopes of shifting the way people view what happened to African Americans during the days of slavery. Brown said his organization has visited the Los Angeles California African American Museum, San Bernardino County Museum, Victorville Museum and around 50 to 60 schools, from elementary school up to college.

“Our goal is to be able to put it into as many hands as possible and teach historical empathy because this is a great story of resilience, so if we can get people to see it as a story of resilience, then more than likely they’ll be wanting to work on it even more,” Brown said.

After many years of collecting and learning more about America’s past, Brown has become passionate about telling this story, which is why he continues to spread his knowledge to today’s generation to make sure the story of resilience never goes unforgotten.

“I started understanding the system,” Brown said. “When I understood the system, I realized we have a choice. We can either break the system or we can continue the system, and each generation has a choice, and that’s where it [his passion for spreading the story] came from.”