Tuesday, November 30, 2010
11:52 AM | Edit Post
The staff of the museum is struggling with the issue of the Civil War and the efforts by many in Arkansas and around the nation to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of America's bloodiest struggle. As a museum of African American history, we are asking ourselves "Why should we commemorate the Civil War?"
The Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery. The history of war - militarily, socially, or economically - is usually told from the perspective of white Americans. And therefore, many of the "celebration" activities around the South are being planned to commemorate Confederate events. A great article in the New York Times about the issue of celebrating the Civil War equals celebrating slavery.
But what about the African Americans or slaves? Didn't this war affect them as much if not more than anyone else? It gave them freedom - something that was previously only a dream. It gave them the opportunity to live the American dream. And despite the events of the next 100 years (i.e. legalized segregation, lynching, and the Civil Rights Movement), the outcome of the Civil War changed the societal make-up of this country arguably more than any other event in history.
So we as a staff are asking ourselves - How do we as an African American museum commemorate the end of slavery?