Normally I blog about ART…
but yesterday I went to the Justice Museum in Montgomery Alabama.
I was overwhelmed with sadness and anger to be reminded of how inhumane the blacks were treated in America from the Civil war to World War 11…. and on.
We were reminded through poignant visuals how cruel it was to dehumanize, torture, hang and beat people just because of their skin color.
We were reminded of the indifference some citizens had to the suffering of others.
We were reminded of how individuals, organizations, and governments made choices that fostered hatred and fear and ultimately allowed mass murders.
Why was this Justice Museum built?
By acknowledging the past we Americans can see/feel/understand that we need to take responsibility
for messages of hate & fear in our families, our communities, our government.
Remaining silent or indifferent about the suffering of others, TODAY or in the PAST
undermines human dignity.
And that is our unalienable right.
LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT of HAPPINESS.
So, this is what the Racial Injustice Project is:
Family members (or volunteers) are digging up the ground under each lynching site and labeling a jar filled with the dirt: the name of the person lynched, the state & county where he/she lived, and their date of death. There is a wall in the museum with all the never-ending jars. Quite an emotional sight.
These families, generations later, are finally getting the acknowledgement they so rightfully deserve.
Many of the people lynched were “UNKNOWN” but now remembered for their torture & slaughter.
I believe in my heart that these souls know that they are being remembered & honored for their plight.
Even if they are still nameless.
So, why did I go to Montgomery?
… or a better question would be, What can I do now that I cannot UN-SEE these images?
Last year I facilitated a pilot study on DIVERSITY in Fairhope Alabama, a beautiful, quaint little town on Mobile Bay, filled with artists and writers… that are predominately white.
Actually, squeaky white.
The concept was to get people together who are completely different (age, race, skin color, religion, disability, social status, etc.) in a creative environment and see if they feel more comfortable with peers who are different from them… by the end of the project.
It was a 6 week course, 2 hours each class. The directive was to make a diorama of what they want to be when they grow up. Yes, even the 76 year old. (go to Beyond ART to see examples of the artwork they created… absolutely amazing!!!).
I would ask a question before each art class and again after the lesson in order to get some measurable outcomes. Out of 18 students in the study, ALL their numbers went up (approx. 20%) when asked at the end of the course:
“Now, would you invite someone of a different race
to your home for dinner?”
To me 20% is a start.
The trip to Montgomery Justice Museum was an eye opener.
I plan to do my part, not only in my art classes, but around my dinner table.