If you haven’t kept up with what’s been happening with the proposed slave museum, this Washington Post article, reprinted in today’s Virginian-Pilot, gives a lot of the background. Not only is the museum in bankruptcy, but Wilder has stopped talking to people about it, including not talking to those who donated artifacts.
What has happened to those artifacts is the thing that bothers me the most.
So much of black history has been lost over the years, because much of it relied on oral history. I still remember watching “Roots” as a kid and being amazed that a family had passed the story of Kunta Kinte through its generations. While I know I am the descendent of slaves on both sides of my family, my ability trace my own roots is limited by the lack of records.
To be able to see the artifacts, such as the mask that Wilder is holding in the photo above (see the slideshow here), is to see a history that wasn’t written down, that was, in many ways, whitewashed. As I said in an earlier post, history is written by the victors.
Wilder, who is pretty good at talking about a lot of other things, does the black community a disservice by not talking about the museum, by not letting all of us know what happened to the donations. Those artifacts need to be returned to their donors or, at the very least, contributed to another museum, where they can be seen by all. (I don’t count this as “talking.”)
I have no idea whether they have the space for it but the perfect place for all of the artifacts would be Fort Monroe, as mentioned in this 2011 editorial.
Whatever is decided, the sooner it is, the better. For all of us.