Waiting as a guide is Theodore Brunson, who was one of 10 Jersey City residents who helped found the African-American Museum in 1977.
The museum began as a project of the Jersey City branch of the NAACP. Brunson had been a history buff for years.
"I've been working on Jersey City History for years. I've been working so long I forgot when I started," he said.
He kept a handful of artifacts in his and his father's house, while holding exhibits in community centers and churches. "When we first got started, we were all over the place," he said.
In 1987, the group was offered one room in the attic of the Greenville Public Library.
"Thomas Taylor [then head of the NAACP] had clout with the town and we got the one room," Brunson said. The museum eventually expanded from one room to three.
The wall of one room features an exhibition describing Jersey City's first African-American landowners, Thomas and John Jackson, who owned a piece of property in Greenville, which was then part of Bergen Township in 1931. Next to the Jackson display is a model of what a kitchen in an African-American home would have looked like in the 1830s.
Modern day Martin Luther King Boulevard was previously named after the Jackson family.
"The name changed eight or nine years ago. I'm sorry the city changed the name to Martin Luther King," said Brunson. "It was the only thing named after black families, and they changed the name."
On another wall of the first room is a bookshelf filled with volumes about African-American topics and authors.
The hallway has a rotating display, which currently features author/activist Frederick Douglas and New Jersey native actor and singer Paul Robeson.
"It's good for anybody to have a history of yourself and your family," he said. "A lot of people don't know about things that black people have done, and I'm talking about black people."
To Brunson, the museum offers an opportunity for people to learn about a history they might not otherwise be exposed to. "People don't always have time. They're busy earning a living, taking care of their family or going to school," he said.
A second room is filled with African masks, pottery and musical instruments.
"Acquiring stuff is one of the tricks of the trade," said Brunson. "Some people donate things, and others, we have to buy."
One of the artifacts Brunson is looking for is a picture of old Jackson Avenue. "You've got to find a good one, and I haven't found one yet," he said.
Statuettes and other trinkets are placed sporadically throughout the museum, such as a dancing James Brown doll and a Jackie Robinson stamp. Robinson played his first baseball game in Jersey City.
Elenise Alvarez stopped by on Thursday with her daughters Christie and Carolina Marte.
"The museum is powerful because it talks about a lot," said Alvarez. "It's great to learn positive things about African-Americans. It makes a difference."
The third room is lined with chairs for performances. The museum features programs for school children. Every Tuesday at noon, fourth graders from Jersey City schools come to see musicians, singers, and actors act out historical scenes or demonstrate African music.
Ten volunteers run the two-hour program. Four full-time employees run the museum.
The museum is located at 1841 Kennedy Blvd. next to Greenville Hospital.