Sigma Gamma Rho soror Monica O. Montgomery had a chance opportunity to be a featured Humans of New York (HONY) story. She told HONY creator and photographer, Brandon Stanton,
“Well, I decided that I wanted to have a socially conscious class. So we learned about apartheid in South Africa. Then we learned about homelessness. Then we made mother’s day cards for Trayvon Martin’s mom/ And I think the principal decided that it was too much for three and four year olds, because she told me I wasn’t a ‘good fit.’ But honestly, I was just shining too bright for them.”
The cards were too much for the principal of her school, and Monica was fired.
Instead of crying foul, Monica cried freedom.
The HONY story garnered over 106,000 likes and 6,000 comments on Facebook. Shortly thereafter, she launched the world’s first mobile social justice museum, Museum of Impact.
Soror Montgomery describes The Museum of Impact (MOI) as a “social change wonderland, exploring activism, altruism and advocacy through a creative lens.” MOI was created to curate the multiple layers of stories and narratives associated with Black Lives Matter and other social movements. Studio artists, historians, musicians, dancers, writers, and other artisans are given a platform to document and archive their thoughts, experiences, and emotions with their art.
After receiving the blessing of BLM co-founder, Patrice Cullors, and consulting with colleagues, Montgomery had the foundation for MOI’s first pop-up exhibit, The #MovementIsRising: Journey of #BlackLivesMatter, which launched late September 2015 in Harlem.
Montgomery and her staff of professionals have had some astounding successes that include The #MovementIsRising and Black Radical Tradition pop-up exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, which featured renowned historian and Sigma Gamma Rho soror Deidre Cooper Owens of CUNY Queens College, the music of emerging opera diva Marquita Raley, and others who paid tribute to the art and fashion of black radical tradition. The most poignant and personal tribute was dedicated to deceased Sigma Gamma Rho soror Sandra Bland. The exhibit was heavily supported by Eta Nu Sigma alumni chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho and undergraduate members in attendance for the #SandyStillSpeaks tribute.
MOI has afforded Monica Montgomery other opportunities that include guest lecturing at Harvard, recognition from museum curators worldwide, and speaking opportunities in countries such as Dublin, Ireland at MuseumNext, an international conference on the future of museums.
Accolades have also come from the celebrity world, such as a social media shout-out from black-ish star, Tracee Ellis Ross. Monica said, “It was a total shock. I immediately re-tweeted and re-posted and screamed.” Ross’ encouragement was unsolicited and timely. “That tweet was a sign to keep doing the work.”
The immediate future of MOI involves a partnership with a global festival, travel and satellite work in D.C., Philadelphia, and Baltimore; and increased relationships with museums and archives around the nation.
To learn more about MOI visit their website museumofimpact.org and follow @museumofimpact on both Twitter and Instagram.