COLORADO SPRINGS - Candice K. McKnight is only one woman. But she’s taken on the work of an entire museum board. She’s done what some had told her was impossible: established an entire museum dedicated to African American history in Colorado Springs.
“It’s a lot of good black history here in Colorado Springs. [I’m] just taking out the time to get it down and do it,” she said.
McKnight has been on a mission for decades. She’s helped families research their history through genealogy while simultaneously doing her own research, finding the stories that went largely untold.
“I said ‘We don’t have anything here to really represent us and our history here in Colorado Springs,’” she said.
So McKnight embarked on the journey to establish the African-American Historical and Genealogical Society of Colorado Springs. She says it’s the only organization of its kind in Colorado. The society and the museum sit in one room inside the old Buena Vista schoolhouse in Colorado Springs. McKnight estimates the room is more than a 100 years old. It’s the perfect setting for the history lessons that happen in the one-room museum.
“We have over 2,000 black history books,” she noted while walking through the room.
The museum keeps semi-regular hours, with the help of volunteers and friends. She also received a lot of help in getting the museum stocked with memorabilia. Many of the items are donated.
“When the black community heard that I was doing this, a lot of them came to me,” she said, “Because they just wanted to know what I was doing. And then after they saw what I was doing, they just started donating things.”
The museum opened in 2010 and has grown bit-by-bit while trying to stay afloat. McKnight says she wants the museum to eventually have its own building. That way, her displays on historic icons like the Buffalo Soldiers, Tuskegee Airmen and Colorado Springs first African American police officers can have their own rooms instead of being pushed together in one small room. McKnight says she won’t rest until she feels her work is done.
“I feel that this is my calling,” she said.
(© 2016 KUSA)