The Root Interview: The Schomburg’s Khalil Gibran Muhammad

The new director of the premier research center for African-American culture talks about his famous great-grandfather, coming of age during the Rodney King beating and his plans for the Harlem library.

Terrence Jennings
Terrence Jennings

I hope that social interaction will still exist in the future. Technology has become a way of mediating human interaction, coming in between old-fashioned phone calls and face-to-face chitchat. Not sure where it’ll end up. I embrace it, but my successor will have come of age when the global movement is certainly in its mature years, not in its infancy. The challenge will be to keep people coming through the doors of the Schomburg, to keep talking to each other instead of a hologram.

TR: How will you do community outreach?

KGM: The old-fashioned way. I won’t be Skyping into community meetings. I will attend as many events as possible to introduce myself to everyday black folk in Harlem. Pounding the pavement means being there. It’s part of what I see the job entailing. Churches, art groups, after-school programs, anti-prison groups, second-chance groups, groups that help people relearn job skills, wherever the community is.

TR: Any last words?

KGM: I’m deeply humbled and excited about it! There’s no place like New York to engage so many wonderful people who care about black people.

Arlene McKanic is a freelance writer from Queens, N.Y., and Blair, S.C.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.