From Storefront to Monument
Tracing the Public History of the Black Museum Movement
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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Table of Contents
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The tentative idea for this book began with an impromptu conversation I had with Keith Mayes while standing in line for coffee (of course) at the University of Minnesota. As a graduate student, I was deeply interested in how people created, and interacted with, physical representations of their past, but I never thought that the result of our conversation would bring me here. For...
Introduction- Museums on the Front Lines: Confronting the “Conspiracy of Silence”
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In November 1969, at the end of what had been a tumultuous decade across the United States, museum professionals and community activists gathered at the Bedford Lincoln Neighborhood Museum in Brooklyn, New York. Conference organizers intended to solicit discussion about how traditional museums could remain relevant in the context of recent social and...
1. When “Civil Rights are not Enough”: Building the Black Museum Movement
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In a 2007 interview with The Public Historian, African American scholar John Hope Franklin deemed the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago to be “one of the pioneer African American museums in the country.”1 It is in the DuSable, which opened its doors in 1961 as the Ebony Museum of History and Art, that we may begin to identify the distinctive...
2. “Not in My Backyard”: The Contested Origins of the African American Museum of Philadelphia
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Compared to the civil rights movement that swept through southern cities like Montgomery and Selma, the future home of the African American Museum of Philadelphia was not as renowned for its activism—despite the fact that the city witnessed a strong civil rights campaign during the 1940s and 1950s.1 In 1951, for example, Philadelphia passed a groundbreaking...
3. Confronting the “Tyranny of Relevance”: Exhibits and the Politics of Representation
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In a 1973 Washington Sunday Star article titled “The Anacostia Tree: How a Neighborhood Museum Has Become a Source of Pride to ‘the other’ Washingtonians,” reporter Joan Kramer cited an exchange between Anacostia Neighborhood Museum assistant director Zora B. Martin and visiting African American schoolchildren:...
4. “To Satisfy a Deadline but Little Else”: The Public Debut of the African American Museum of Philadelphia
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As the nation approached its Bicentennial year, the tentative efforts of mainstream museums to include multicultural perspectives, establish outreach programs, and build decentralized museums that targeted racially and ethnically diverse groups failed to alleviate the sense of exclusion that remained among nonwhite audiences. The protests surrounding exhibitions...
5. Rocky Transitions: Black Museums Approach a New Era
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By the mid-1980s, the small vanguard of African American museums that took root during the 1960s had grown into a network of more than one hundred African American museums across the country in locations as varied as the African American Museum in Dallas (founded in 1974) and the Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee (1988).1 During the...
6. A Museum for the Future: The National Museum of African American History and Culture
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In transforming the museum profession, black museum leaders embraced with creative verve the clarion call of activists such as June Jordan, Stokely Carmichael, and Malcolm X to bring the doctrines of the Black Power Movement—that is, black institutional capacity, self-sufficiency, and black pride—to museums and other sites of public history. Positioning black power...
Conclusion- The Ties that Bind: Museums as Community Agents
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In the 1972 issue of Museum News, Anacostia Neighborhood Museum founder John Kinard spoke plainly about what he believed to be the responsibility of the museum profession toward underserved audiences: “The day when established institutions can deny their responsibilities and cheat the masses is swiftly coming to an end. If museum people do not realize this, they only...
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Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 10 illus.
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Public History in Historical Perspective