A Celebration Linking Art, History, and Community

Filed in: About WDW, Beyond the Theme Parks, Making a Difference, Walt Disney World Resort

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – April 8, 2017 –  Hundreds of Guests recently enjoyed an afternoon of culture and appreciation at Disney as part of the 65th anniversary of the Orlando chapter of The Links, Inc. With Epcot as the backdrop, participants – including art students from Jones High School and their families – were delighted with a luncheon and surprise visit from Mickey Mouse and Minnie, before capping off the day with a tour of The Kinsey Collection and time in the theme park.

The Links, Inc., is an international service organization with over 14,000 African-American women in 283 chapters across 41 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Its chapters focus on five facets: services to youth; the arts; national trends and services; health and human services; and, international trends and services. The Orlando chapter provides various opportunities for the academic and personal growth of Jones High School students as its membership includes many alumnae of the school.

“Disney is proud to collaborate with The Links because its efforts mirror our core values,” said Betty Martinez Lowery, manager of corporate citizenship for Walt Disney World Resort. “We support initiatives that enable meaningful interactions for children and families, provide opportunities for shared responsibility and decision-making, and address the support and development of children from cradle to career.”

During the luncheon, retired Disney executive Robert Billingslea shared the history of philanthropists Bernard and Shirley Kinsey’s collection. Their son, Khalil, was curious about his family ancestry, and it inspired the Kinsey’s to start amassing African-American artifacts as a way to teach him about his lineage. Through the years, the Kinsey’s private collection has grown and currently is featured in museums around the nation, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. After viewing the collection with his wife, Billingslea was moved, and as a result, an exhibit was brought to the Walt Disney World Resort in 2013.

“We appreciate Disney for hosting this event. As advocates for celebrating cultures, the Orlando chapter of The Links, Inc., was ecstatic to share this opportunity with community members who might not have had the chance to see it otherwise,” said Vicki Brooks, Orlando Links member and chair of its anniversary celebration event. “It also was a pleasure to include students who are members of the art and history club at Jones High School, and are eager to learn more about historic art.”

Orlando-area residents and guests can explore “Re-Discovering America – Family Treasures from The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection,” which features approximately 40 pieces from more than 250 rare documents, books, letters, manuscripts, sculptures and paintings. This intersection of African-American art, culture and history from the 1600s to modern day can be viewed daily at the American Adventure pavilion’s American Heritage Gallery with admission to Epcot.

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