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Tucson's new African American Museum is "a movement, not just a museum"

The museum will have an official opening event Saturday, Jan. 14 as part of MLK weekend
Posted at 2:59 PM, Jan 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-04 19:36:46-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — KGUN 9's Giving Project campaign is starting the new year off with our January recipient, a new museum that's long overdue here in Tucson.

The African American Museum of Southern Arizona is now open on the University of Arizona campus, where it moved from concept to reality over the course of the pandemic.


"It all started because of a seven-year-old's question," said Beverely Elliott, Executive Director of the African American Museum.

Beverely and Bob Elliott's grandson, Jody, was researching African American heroes for a first grade assignment when he asked them:

"Where's the museum here where I can find people that are like me?"

That inspired Beverely and Bob to start a non-profit and open the African American Museum of Southern Arizona—first online, and now inside the Student Union at the University of Arizona.

"We're a movement, not just a museum," said Bob Elliott, African American Museum Board Chair.

And Bob Elliott knows all about being part of a movement.

He's best known as the star of Arizona Basketball in the 1970s under Fred Snowden, the first African American head coach at a major university.

Poster image (14).jpg

"When coach Snowden recruited me here, his pitch was let's go out west and make history," said Bob. "He was the first black (head) coach in Division I, major school, major conference. He knew the microscope would be on us."

Despite being subjected to several incidents of racism, he and Snowden had great success at Arizona in the '70s.

You'll find a section of the museum dedicated to Fred Snowden, as well as an area remembering the great Buffalo Soldiers of Southern Arizona.

"People need to know the history, the stories, and so we can memorialize them, have them where people can come listen to them," said Bob. "That's some of what I know our charge is."


"We want to make sure that younger people, like our grandson, when they turn 50 they can still come to the museum and find out what happened 50 years ago," Beverely said. "And we also want to move into the digital age. We want to make sure young people are enthused and inspired to want to come and learn about themselves."

The museum will have an official opening event Saturday, Jan. 14 as part of MLK weekend.

We invite you to make a donation to the African American Museum of Southern Arizona. Even $5 or $10 will make a difference.

Our partner in the Giving Project, the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, is matching the first $500 in donations again this month.

Pat Parris is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. He is a graduate of Sabino High School where he was the 1982 high school state track champion in the 800 meters. While in high school and college, he worked part-time in the KGUN 9 newsroom. Share your story ideas and important issues with Pat by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


The Giving Project



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TOTAL TO DATE - $91,227.49

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