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Pepperdine University to Host the Kinsey Collection: America’s Largest Privately Held Anthology of African American Art, History, and Ephemera



The latest installment of Pepperdine University’s President’s Speakers Series concluded with a surprise. Bernard Kinsey, the celebrated executive, consultant, Pepperdine MBA alumnus, and art collector, announced that Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University will present the acclaimed exhibition the Kinsey African American Art & History Collection during the spring 2022 semester.

The award-winning Kinsey Collection celebrates the achievements and contributions of Black Americans from 1595 to present times. Widely considered to be one of the most comprehensive surveys of African American history and culture outside of the Smithsonian Institution, the collection is the result of the inspired work of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, featuring more than 150 paintings, sculptures, photographs, rare books, letters, manuscripts, and more. A groundbreaking exhibition that has been viewed by more than 15 million people and received national media attention, the Kinsey Collection is now carried forward by their son, Khalil, who serves as its general manager and curator. 

“As proud Pepperdine graduates, Shirley and I deem it fitting for our family to share our passion with our university,” said Bernard Kinsey, the former Xerox senior executive and founder of KBK Enterprises, Inc. “Shirley, Khalil and I have poured our lives and legacies into curating this powerful, and often difficult, part of the American story. Now it will be a special privilege to impart a bit of what we have learned and loved to a whole generation of Pepperdine undergraduate and graduate students. Our future is sometimes the product of the stories we tell about the past. This collection represents a neglected part of our American story.”

The exhibition will run from January through March of the spring 2022 semester. Having toured more than 30 cities in the US and internationally, the collection represents an intersection between art and history, focusing on the lives, accomplishments, and artistry of African Americans from the 16th century through the years of slavery and emancipation to the civil rights movement and modern day.

“It was a high privilege to have Bernard, Shirley, and Khalil Kinsey—Pepperdine graduates, friends, and groundbreaking community leaders—keynote our latest installment of the President’s Speaker Series. It is an even greater honor to announce to our community that the conversation that began this evening will continue in grand form less than one year from now,” said Pepperdine University president Jim Gash. “We are a global university, but first, we are a local institution and proud residents of Los Angeles County, so it’s truly an honor for Pepperdine to bring the collection back to Los Angeles.”

When the Kinseys were married in 1967, the couple decided to save her paychecks and his bonuses and raises. It’s a habit they carried on during a widely successful and groundbreaking career. Among their early dreams was a goal to visit 100 different countries during their life together. While traveling and exploring other countries and cultures, Bernard and Shirley began collecting art and artifacts as treasured memories of their travel experiences. As their collection grew, they soon realized that there were so many aspects about their own cultural heritage that they did not know. Their passion for art, history, and culture led them to a deeper understanding and deeper connection with their own African American history and family legacies.


The Pepperdine President's Speaker Series welcomes distinguished scholars and thought leaders representing diverse points of view to examine topics and issues facing communities and the world today. Driven by a desire to connect deeply with the Pepperdine University community and inspire meaningful dialogue, the series provides opportunities to cultivate an engaged and impassioned collective through civil discourse. Previous speakers in the spring semester have included Princeton professor Robert P. George and Harvard professor Dr. Cornel West (in dialogue with one another).

The next President’s Speaker Series, entitled “Vaccines: Where are We and Where are We Going?” will be held at 5 PM on March 29, 2021. The event will feature a panel discussion with speakers Dr. Jonathan B. Perlin, president of the Clinical Services Group and chief medical officer of HCA Healthcare, and Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, former commissioner of food and drugs at the US Food and Drug Administration. The event will be moderated by Pepperdine Board of Regents chair Dee Anna Smith (’86), CEO of Sarah Cannon.

Bernard Kinsey is a former Xerox executive, former chief operating officer and co-chairman of Rebuild Los Angeles (RLA) and president and founder of KBK Enterprises, Inc. Kinsey is also one of the cofounders of the Kinsey African American Art & History Collection, alongside his wife of more than 50 years, Shirley P. Kinsey and their son, Khalil Kinsey.


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