Black American West Museum gets $100,000 donation just in time for Black History Month

DENVER -- The Black American West Museum opened in 1971 by a local barber named Paul Steward. For years, the museum has worked hard to stay open. Now, a donation will help preserve the museum for future visitors.

It was opened, “to dispel the myth that there were no blacks that settled in the west," according to Daphne Rice-Allen, the chair of the museum's board.

For decades, the museum is where one would go to learn about black cowboys and business owners, among other things.

“There were black miners who struck gold, who were wealthy miners, and that’s a piece that’s not known," Rice-Allen said.

Keeping the place up and running is not the easiest thing. Rice-Allen says there have been times she thought it would close.

“Yes, we’ve been there several times," Rice- Allen said. “We have non-paid staff. That’s why right now, we are only open Friday and Saturday 10 to 2, because all of us have full-time jobs and [are] doing this out of the passion.”

Passion for the history is felt by more than the people who work there.

“I’d like to see this place stay here for many more years," Dr. Renee Cousins King said. She is the donor behind the $100,000 gift.

Dr. Renee Cousins King is a woman with a lot of history in Denver. Her grandparents' picture is even hung up in the museum.

“I was able to give a financial gift that I hope will be very useful.”

The donation will be used for renovations of the building.

“It’s allowed us to breathe," Rice-Allen said.

If you walk through the museum, you'll learn about the woman who originally owned the house, Dr. Justina Ford. She was the first black female licensed as a doctor in Colorado.

Ford delivered Dr. Cousins King's father. It's just one of many connections King has to the museum.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

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