The new director of the Schomburg Center for Research In Black Culture, Indiana University history professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad, plans to do a lot of listening in his first days on the job.
“I think it is really important for me to come to the Schomburg with ‘big ears,'” Muhammad said. “Listening to the staff and the current administration, paying close attention to what has worked in the past, and what the staff thinks will make the Schomburg an even better place than it already is.”
Muhammad is the great-grandson of Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. In July, he takes the reins from Howard Dodson, Jr., who is retiring after 26 years leading the Schomburg Center.
He says one of his first priorities will be to cultivate relationships with a new generation of scholars. “Part of what I see my job to do is to reach out to senior leaders of the community, but also to the younger generation whose voices may only now be rising,” Muhammad said. “There is a new generation of creators, of creative artists, of political movers and shakers. For example, we have a second generation of black mayors who have assumed leadership positions in cities across the country, so there are a lot of people to begin to connect with. I want to make sure that their contribution continues the legacy of the Schomburg. I want to make sure that I play a part in connecting a long, rich legacy of both present and future.”