Say the name Chris Webber and smiling faces will soon engage you in animated conversations about his stellar achievements as an NBA star on the basketball court. Others speak of his entrepreneurial efforts. And there are those who delight in talking about the work of his foundation. There is, of course, another facet of Webber that few know. He is a devoted collector of African American artifacts and documents that span four different centuries—the 1700s, 1800s, 1900s and 2000s. A sampling includes first edition books by Phillis Wheatley and Booker T. Washington, a ledger owned by a slaveholding Virginian who recorded the sale of a family, personal writings by Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as an album recorded by Paul Robeson and a concert program signed by Marian Anderson.
Webber shares such important artifacts and documents with the public, especially children, and thereby allows us to celebrate the impact that great luminaries have made on the lives of every American. But equally significant, his collection speaks to the humanity of a people and their will to overcome adversity. There is a human need to remember the heroes and heroines in our history who championed our values, participated in our struggles, and contributed to the ongoing development of our community and society. Chris Webber for brings his collection to communities to give the public another opportunity to remember and celebrate a glorious heritage.
On June 28, 2007, Webber unveiled his collection of African American artifacts during the Celebrating Heritage Exhibition at Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. When not on public exhibit, the artifacts are stored at the Sacramento Public Library’s Archival Vault. In previous years, the Chris Webber Collection has previously been featured in Crocker Art Museum and Wayne State University.