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Museum in Black Falls Into the Red

July 05, 2002

There must be some way to save Brian Breye's Museum in Black in Leimert Park Village ("Museum in Black Closing, Out of Funds," June 29). When I was community relations director at UCLA's International Student Center back in the '90s, I used to bring busloads of foreign students to Breye's museum as part of Discover L.A., a program that helped orient new students to the diversity in Los Angeles.

Breye would hold the crowd of Chinese, Korean, Indian, Israeli and European students enthralled as he wove stories about slavery, segregation and liberation around specific pieces of the memorabilia he had collected. He was generous with his time and knowledge, not only with those students but also with the at-risk high school students I used to bring by.

Museum in Black functioned as a community living room. Whoever walked in, from whatever part of town or of whatever skin color or religion, was made to feel welcome and encouraged to participate in the stimulating discussions that were always taking place. This is not just a museum, not just a store, but an irreplaceable and critically important space that should be maintained at any cost. Mayor Hahn, Magic, Denzel--are you listening?

Jan Zahler Lebow

El Segundo

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