Motor City Rides

Oct 1, 2008 at 12:00 am

Khalid El-Hakim's got a good sense of humor. Who else would purchase an "Original Boys in the Hood" bumper sticker featuring three Ku Klux Klansmen from a rather shocked vendor at a Saline, Mich., flea market?

The guy's humor belies his greater mission. Over the last 10 years, the Detroit Lions Academy Social Studies teacher has amassed more than 1500 items for his Black History 101 Mobile Museum. For the last two years he has been taking his collection around to schools and colleges in a trailer painted by Detroit graffiti legend SinTex. Inspired in part by Professor David Pilgrim and his Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University, el-Hakim's collection covers every angle of black history — from pop culture to music to civil rights to racist memorabilia.

It was the latter which led him to an area auction of KKK memorabilia from the estate of former grand wizard Robert Miles. In addition to a KKK hood, el-Hakim's snagged books from such legendary black revolutionaries as Robert Williams. (Somewhat surprisingly, Miles had an impressive collection of black revolutionary literature.)

Many of the intolerant attendees at the auction attempted to outbid el-Hakim but, unbeknownst to them, he was bankrolled by none other than emcee Proof (RIP). You see, el-Hakim was Proof's manager back when he was in 5 Elementz and began managing him again in 2004. He became vice president of Proof's Iron Fist records.

Dude's also tight with the hip-hop community — in fact, he has booked shows for rap originators the Last Poets since 1994 and Public Enemy's Professor Griff frequently travels with the Black History Mobile 101 Museum.

"I use hip hop to prick the interest of youth so we can talk about history" el-Hakim says. "When you study Black History in school you skip from Harriet Tubman to the civil rights movement. My mission and challenge is to fill in these gaps."

Learn more about the Black History 101 Mobile Museum at