Next month the Smithsonian’s African American museum will open its doors, offering visitors a colorful journey through very long and complicated history of black people in American continent, written in various old and new artifacts. The major part of the exhibition will be larger installations such as the guard tower from the Angola prison in Louisiana and the Parliament-Funkadelic “mothership” which was retrieved from frontman George Clinton’s home, put in place since this spring. Many expo materials like the guard tower had to be placed even before the main building was finished. It was transported more than 1000 miles on the huge flatbed truck.
There are physically smaller artifacts that represent monumental events in the history of black Americans, whose details are already published by the Smithsonian Magazine, as this grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture is drawing near. These artifacts will present about 400 years of US society, from the ages of early barbarism of the slave trade to the significant cultural achievements of black Americans during the past few decades.
This long history is displayed chronologically, starting from the basement of the building and finishing in its third glass story. It will be all about pre-colonial and pre-enslavement African visitors, or more precisely, about the transatlantic trade which caused the immigration of more than 12 million Africans to the American continent, locked in shackles, showing a pair of 17th or 18th century iron wrist locks. Deputy director of the museum, Kinshasha Holman said: “They are probably one of the most poignant objects we have in our collection. It’s something that doesn’t ever allow us to forget that we as African Americans were born of a county built on the enslavement and the ownership of human beings.”
Commenting these iron locks as the part of the exhibition to Smithsonian magazine, scholar and author of the historical novel “Middle Passage”, Charles Johnson said: “If these shackles could speak, they would say it took the resources of an entire society to create slave ships. Everyone in slave-trading societies, even those who never owned a slave, was implicated.”
Visitors will also get a chance to see an early form of photography captured on glass, the original ambrotype portrait of Frederick Douglass, pointing to the nation’s fight for abolition and the era of the civil war. This speaker, writer, abolitionist and freedman is on the most photographed Americans in 19th century. A scholar of African American photography at New York University, Deborah Willis told to Smithsonian magazine that Douglass thought that developing technology of photography was a very powerful instrument of racial uplift. Willis said: “Douglass believed photos ‘could challenge the racist caricatures of black people that pervaded the United States and beyond with images that communicated black humanity, self-worth and achievement’.”
During the 1940s, the period before the civil rights era, Dr Kenneth Clark and his wife Mamie were involved in deep social science studies of the 20th century. By their famous “doll tests”, they demonstrated the way in which white supremacist idea affected black people at miraculously young age.
image source: theguardian.com
Next month the Smithsonian’s African American museum will open its doors, offering visitors a colorful journey through very long and complicated history of black people in American continent, written in various old and new artifacts. The major part of the...