National Slavery Museum..Will It Ever?

What will become of the US National Slavery Museum? If you’ve been following it, you know that last week the New York Times ran an article about the museum and how the dreams that former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder may never come true. Is it wrong that I’m not surprised?

I thought that the museum was a good idea, yet ahead of its time. While the new National Museum of African American History and Culture has the backing of the Smithsonian and will cover more than slavery, the focal point of the museum on slavery was just slavery. It’s mission was “to vitalize and interpret more completely the human drama and toll of slavery in America. The museum will educate some, re-educate others by presenting slavery in a larger and more balanced economic and political complex.” Perfect! But while those behind the museum and others like myself would find a place like this worth the visit and an exciting place to visit, I’m still not sure if the country is ready for a place where it’s all about slavery. Do I wish we were ready? Of course. But really? We’re not there.

The discussion “Is America ready to talk about slavery?” Will probably last the next 100 years. I think the inhumanity of slavery will always be one of the reasons why discussing the enslaved experience, but once we are ready to talk about, will anybody be willing to put their money where their mouth is? The latest issue for the National Slavery Museum is not people unwilling to talk about the subject. It’s the fact that there is a tax bill waiting to be paid. Now that it looks like the property will be auctioned, the dream of a national museum on slavery seems to be just that…a dream.

What will it take for a place like this to actually take shape and then open its doors? Or is the idea of having a museum dedicated to slavery too much? Hopefully it can come to fruition and open its doors to educate school children and the public on slavery. At the very least, can it create an online exhibit of the wonderful artifacts it has collected so that we can get a glimpse of what could have been? It may not be a museum that people could physically visit but it would still provide a way to share their mission with the world and change the lives of many. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, do you?


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