The student who used black pride and African American consciousness to lead fellow disgruntled students at the University of the District of Columbia to shut down the campus for 10 days will take a prominent role at a national convention for collectors of black memorabilia in Washington this weekend.

"The fruits of our four-century struggle can often be found in the memorabilia . . . and that is a definite link to our ancestry," Mark Thompson said this week. "For {a UDC student} to be asked to participate in this is definitely in line with our tradition."

Organizers said their goal is to use mammy and Black Sambo dolls and Aunt Jemima cookie jars and other items to encourage blacks to collect such memorabilia and to teach children about the ways people of African descent have been portrayed in America.

The group is currently recruiting youths from the city's public schools to join their effort through a youth chapter of their organization.

The challenge, say collectors, is educating the black community about the importance of purchasing and preserving their own art and images.

"The reason we want these people to collect these images of black people is so they can learn their history," said Loretta Smith, a spokeswoman for the National Black Memorabilia Collectors' Association. "Black people are still being miseducated."

The group's third annual convention begins today with a forum at the UDC campus, and will conclude Saturday at the Quality Inn in Silver Spring. The convention agenda also includes a collectibles show and sale, an awards banquet, lectures and a fashion show featuring African clothing.

"Our commitment is to history . . . to make sure that our history is documented," said Edward L. McIntosh, president of the association.

"There's a need in the African American community for a second emancipation" through education, McIntosh said.

Collectors note that it took a while for African Americans to appreciate these items, seeing them first as negative images and questioning whether they should be embraced as historical artifacts.

Not surprisingly, many of the original collectors were white, although that has changed significantly today as more and more blacks see that understanding the negative imagery is also important.

The invitation to protest leader Thompson was a natural extension of much that the organization represents, convention leaders said. The UDC protest denounced, among other things, the university trustees' decision to acquire Judy Chicago's controversial artwork "The Dinner Party."

Before choosing Thompson, organizers had hired a Hollywood comedian as master of ceremonies. "When I saw {Thompson} on TV, I said that's the person I want to be part of this," Smith said. "He fits so perfectly with our theme."