Utah’s part in Black history, traveling exhibit helps educate

Feb 9, 2023, 5:00 AM
The Utah Black History Museum is making its way around the state to promote an appreciation and und...
The Utah Black History Museum is making its way around the state to promote an appreciation and understanding of Black history in Utah. (Utah Black History Museum)
(Utah Black History Museum)

OREM, Utah — The Utah Black History Museum is making its way around the state this month to promote an appreciation and understanding of Black history in Utah. 

Recently, its traveling exhibit made a stop at the Utah Valley University Orem Campus, on Feb. 8.

At the university, gripping and inspiring stories about local and national Black history were featured throughout the exhibit. 

“It is compelling history that all Utahns should know and understand,” said Jerome Currelley, program director of the UVU African Diaspora Initiative.


The museum’s first exhibit uses a bus to educate about real Black History all over the state of Utah. According to its website, with Utah’s population growing in diversity, residents need more equitable representation amongst their organizations. 

To schedule a tour from the bus for an appropriate event, click here

About Black history in Utah

In July of 1847, the Brigham Young party arrived in the Salt Lake Valley with three enslaved African American men. Although slavery wasn’t ratified by law until 1852, the inhumane status of the majority of Black individuals at the time was accepted. 

Black slaves were bought and sold within the state until the United States Congress abolished slavery in the territories. in 1862

According to the Utah History Encyclopedia, by the 1890s the black community had numbers large enough to establish its own organizations, such as social groups, newspapers, churches, etc. 

However, in the early 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan made its way to Utah. Peak Klan membership reached numbers ranging from two to five thousand.

And by 1981 the Klan was reduced to a handful of underground members, said the Utah History Encyclopedia webpage. 

Utah showed assurance of diversifying efforts when Reverend Robert Harris, a Democrat from Ogden was the first African American elected to the Utah State Legislature in 1976.

A decade later, the state accepted the federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday as a state holiday. 

Today, Utah’s African American population continues to grow and blossom. 

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