SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- The Santa Monica History Museum has put together an exhibit of one of its hometown pioneers. Vernon Brunson was a designer, poet, civil rights advocate and more. The exhibit will run through Black History Month at the end of February.
"Back in the '30s and the '40s, there were not great opportunities for African Americans, especially African American men. He was the kind of person that thought outside the box early in life," said Carolyn Edwards, co-founder of the Quinn Research Center.
Brunson's extraordinary life is on display at the Santa Monica History Museum. Born into one of the first black families in Santa Monica, Brunson was a poet, playwright and columnist for the California eagle newspaper. Breaking barriers in aviation, he became an electromechanical designer at Hughes aircraft.
"It's really fun to walk into the exhibition because it looks like you're walking into Vernon Bronson's office," said Rob Schwenker, executive director of the Santa Monica History Museum.
Another passion of Brunson's was architectural design.
"We were actually really lucky to receive the donation of Vernon Bronson's architectural plans. So we have about 100 of those plans in our collection. So we were able to showcase those for the very first time here," said Anne Wallentine, curator and collections manager at Santa Monica History Museum.
These pieces were studied and collected through the Quinn Research Center, which is an educational archive and dedicated to researching back family history in the Santa Monica bay.
Carolyn and Bill Edwards not only co-founded the Quinn Research Center, but Carolyn actually grew up with Vernon and believes he just might have invited the selfie.
"He invented a little box camera. And he attached a string to it. And so what he did was he had the string in his hand. And then he went in front of the shutter. And he pull the string and took a picture of himself," said Edwards.