As Mark McKinley puts it, “no collector ever says, ‘I’ve gone too far.'” After 27 years and an official Guinness World Record, he stands by that statement.
With more than 4,000 collectible items ranging from vintage film posters to a zoot suit costume from Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, the Museum of African American Cinema (MoAAC) is actually a modest four-room office space on the ninth floor of Harlem’s Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building.
MoAAC, formed in 2001 as a nonprofit organization, is the brainchild of Gregory Javan Mills, Ernest N. Steele and twenty other founding members. Mills, its current C.E.O. & president, remembers seeing an episode of “Tony Brown’s Journal” on PBS in the mid-1980s devoted to early black cinema. He and the others spent the next decade and a half researching the history of black cinema in the United States. The idea to create a museum didn’t materialize until the late ’90s. Mills is on a mission to secure funds to display the vast collection, evidence of the largely untold history of black cinema, at a permanent establishment.
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Emon Hassan, Narratively’s Director of Video & Multimedia, is a New York-based filmmaker and photographer. He is also a contributor to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook & Google+.
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