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A RESOURCE FOR HARMONY: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY OF EXHIBITION, HERITAGE AND RACE AT FAMILY HERITAGE HOUSE MUSEUM, BRADENTON, FLORIDA BY CHRISTINA CHAVEZ A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Science New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the spons orship of Professor Uzi Baram Sarasota, Florida May, 2011
ii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Kathie Marsh & Fredi Brown, Thank you for allowing me into your lives and Family Heritage House Museum. This thesis would not have been possible without you. You are truly inspirational women. Nicole Whalen and Erica Lindegren, Thank you for the late night and early morning support, caffeine, the occasional thesis rant, and always welcomed tangential conversation and laughter. Maura Letmon, I will always love our talks. Uzi Baram, your encouragement over these past four year is unmatched, and has truly helped me to become a more confident student, anthropologist and person, thank you. Maria Vesperi, your eagerness to listen, engage, and help me with this project as well as classes and tutorials over the past four years has inspired the way I think about the world around me, thank you. Mom and Dad, I am lucky to have parents who have always believed in me, parents who let me discover myself for myself. It took awhile, but I finally found out what inspires me and I owe that to you. Adam, I n all aspects of my life you support me without question. We would say: here is no one else I would have rather experienced New College (and the hell that was thesis year) with then you. Also, 3<3
iii TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgem ii iii List of Illustrat iv v 1 Resourc Embodied Connections: African American Heritage 51 Artifact Resistance: Challengi 77 105
iv LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS Figure 3: The Traveling F
v A RESOURCE FOR HARMONY: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY OF EXHIBITION, HERITAGE, AND RACE AT FAMILY HERITAGE HOUSE MUSEUM, BRADENTON, FLORIDA Christina Chavez New College of Florida 2010 ABSTRACT This thesis is the product of ethnographic fieldwork spanning from January 2010 to January 2011. The artifacts, exhibits, and events which are a part of Family Heritage House Museum were methodological tools which provided cultural insight into the communi ty centered African American heritage museum. An analysis of specific artifacts, exhibits, and events illustrate the manner in which exhibition, heritage, and race intersect at Family Heritage House Museum. As an instrument of power exhibition separates th e subject from the object turning the intangible and ephemeral responses to culture into a tangible thing. Through this process, the museum constructs heritage for specific social and cultural goals in the present. For African Americans heritage, race and racism are central components. This analysis is used to frame Family Heritage House Museum as a resource that connects African American families, children, and the local community to their heritage in order to inform an African American identity that confr onts dominant racial ideology. Professor Uzi Baram Department of Social Sciences
1 Chapter 1 Introduction In October 2010, Fredi Brown, the co founder of the Family Heritage House Museum and I were talking. The recorder was out, sitting between us, and my pen lay idle on the table. We sat across from each other in the research room of Family Heritage House Mus eum located on the State College of Florida Campus in Bradenton, Florida. We had been talking for over an hour and it seemed about time that we get back to attending the museum I asked her if there was anything she wanted to say before we stopped. She said that whenever information goes out on the museum she always likes to many pamphlets the words of her late husband co founder, Ernest L. Brown Jr heritage as a recognized incentive to expand horizons and achieve greater levels of literacy. It is a center devoted to the study and explorat the order of things. Such understanding frees the individual from self doubt as to his worth and makes possible the fullest positive development of h the the above quote is two fold: 1) this thesis is the outcome of information t hat I have obtained through participant observation and information available at Family Heritage House Museum in the form of material artifacts. From an interpretation of these sources this thesis presents a representation of the Family Heritage House Muse um. 2) In light of
2 was her guidance and knowledge, not to mention her enduring patience, which led to my understanding of Family Heritage House Museum. This thesi s explore how exhibition, heritage, and race intersect at Family Heritage House Museum to create a resource that connects African American families, children, and the local community to their heritage as a way to inform an African American identity that co nfronts a dominate racial ideology. Before I can move on to the details of this argument a few outlining questions are necessary. Such as, how is Family Heritage House Museum a resource? Where does Family Heritage House Museum fall along a spectrum of muse ums? These questions are the focus of this introduction. I begin by laying out my methodology: my fieldwork spanning from February 2010 to March 2011, and the use of an object centered ethnographic analysis. Then, through an analysis of Family Heritage H laws I explain how the museum is a resource that strengthens families, inspires children, and provides out reach to the local community. I go on to discuss the different contingencies of pedagogy and knowledge in diff erent types of museums: the modernist museum, the postmodern museum, and the ethnic museum. In the final section, I frame Family Heritage House Museum as an ethnic museum. Finally, I conclude with a summary of the chapters. Methodology: Object Centered Ethnography and Fieldwork This thesis is an object centered ethnographic study o f Family Heritage House Museum. It is the product of thirteen months of fieldwork, over fifteen months of
3 volunteer work, museum event attendance, and interviews with museum st aff and community members. T he information presented in this thesis is accessible at Family Heritage House Museum. While volunteering at Family Heritage House Museum, during spring of 2010, I was putting a photo album together when I came across a photo of Fredi and Ernest the co founders of the museum arm was wrapped around his wife. T he two of them were smiling, and standing at the bottom step of a white trailer; behind them was a paper go, Fredi and Ernest Brown began Family Heritage House Museum at this very trailer. It was located on the Head Start Campus in Braden ton, Florida. The National Head Start Association is an organization that supports lower income children, families, and com munities through early childhood development and education. In 2000, the Browns loaned their collection to the State College of Florida in Bradenton, and with fundraising they were able to build where the museum and re search center are housed today. The Family Heritage House Museum is remarkable in the depth of information it holds and the funct ion it serves for the community as a place to gather, a s well as a place room, a res earch room, a multipurpose room. All of these rooms are named after African Americans who inspired the Browns There is also a gallery where t is displayed. The exhibit chronicles i mportant events, people, and movements in national African American history history of Manatee and Sarasota counties Many of the artifacts on display in the museum
4 were donated by local community members, friends of Fredi and Ernest, family members of the Browns, or family members from the local community that the museum honors. These material artifacts are central to this thesis. I gained insight into the social ticipant observation as a volunteer. Being a volunteer helped me get comfortable with the museum as a field site and founder, Fredi Brown, and Museum Specialist, Kathie Marsh. Being a volun teer enabled me to help out with anything the museum needed, and this usually amounted to doing the odds jobs like moving chairs, folding pamph sharpening pencils with what I can only imagine is the loudest pencil sharper ev er invented. These were small, but I th ink, greatly appreciated tasks that allowed me to un derstand the flow of the museum, and everyone Being a volunteer also allowed me to wander freely and take in the museum little by little: revisi ting artifacts, exploring binders, and browsing photo albums. This perspective allowed me to get to know the museum the way an individual begins to feel at home in house. Along with learning what things where and where they went, I learned what things meant and why they were there. Material artifacts are no t only the focus of this thesis; t hey were also the way I obtained my information Since its inception in 1990, Family Heritage House has strived to be a research center for the local commun ity. Along with the artifacts, the Family Heritage House M useum has information on the local history of Manatee and Sarasota counties I was able to learn about past exhibits and programs with which Family Heritage House was
5 involved through newspaper clip pings and video recordings housed at the museum I also benefited from information on families from the community including the Browns ; I found speeches, papers, and awards presented to Fredi and Ernest Brown and their children Beverly, Ernest, and Peter Finally, I had access to information on national African American culture and history in the form of books, videos, and newspaper articles. Using the material artifacts from the museum as a way to talk about the museum provided me with a unique approach t o fieldwork that engendered a more collaborative (2010) describes how photography allowed him a ccess into the competitive sport of Ballroom Dancing. H e calls photography his s ocial and cultural passport into the image driven world of Ballroom Dancing. Taking photos and exchanging them for interviews allowed Marion to build rapport with dancers while providing access to Ballroom Dance media sources which used his images in their publications. Photography also allowed him entry and insight into the culture of ballroom dance. Which images people and companies choose, what comments they made, and how they compared photographs were graphs) to gain social and cultural access and insights parallels my own fieldwork. The objects I found at Family Heritage House Museum (artifacts, newspaper clippings, books, games, toys, music, and exhibits) were mediums through which I gained social rapport with the staff and cultural insight into the museum and local community. I would use artifacts I found around the museum to start conversations. In many ways, these artifacts helped me navigate the museum during my first few months of
6 volunteering, doing research, and conducting interviews. I could bring up an artifact with Fredi, Kathie, or someone else who was familiar with the museum and we could have a discussion about it We would talk about why we liked it, or it would lead to talking about a different artifact. S ometimes it would lead to talking about the museum as a whole. House Museum. How I received information during my fieldwork is how I attempt to present it i n this thesis through the descrip tion and analysis of artifacts. One way I describe and analyze the artifacts in Family Heritage House Museum is laws, which define Family Heritage House Museum as a resource cen ter. From a Reading Room to a Resource Twenty years ago, Fredi and Ernest Brown had an idea to create a reading room for the community; they called it Family Heritage House. In 2000, when the Family Heritage House moved and became Family Heritage House Museum, the mission statement and by laws were written. The themes of family, children, and community presented in the mission statement and By se three themes statement and expanded on in the By Laws of Family Heritage House Inc. I begin with the mission statement. The mission of the museum is to inspire children to have respect for their ancestors, a love for learning, and a passion for service. Further, to strengthen black families and empower them to maintain the historical bonds of kinship; to assist in the promulgation of the culture for the benefits of the general pu blic.
7 The mission statement clearly states that the museum works to inspire children and strengthen black families The last part of the mission states that the museum works toward a proliferation of culture that is meant to benefit the general public. The museum does not view itself as a storage facility meant to encase artifacts forever. Rather, the museum is framed as a facility constantly in motion working to inspire, strengthen, and spread knowledge. Where the mission statement is limited, the by laws help to expand on who Family Heritage House Museum considers to be the general public. Likewise, it provides a m ore explicit statement for community, which is the third theme I examine in this thesis. By Laws of Family Heritage House Inc. Article II. Purpose The general nature, objects, and purpose of the corporation [Family Heritage House Inc.] shall be to provid e, maintain and operate a facility as a community resource for the study of African American achievements and participation in the progress of the United States ; to inspire children to have a love for learning, respect for their ancestors, and a passion f or service ; to strengthen African American families and empower them to maintain the historical bonds of kinship ; to assist in the promulgation of the culture for the benefit of all Americans through the establishment and operation of an African American H istory Museum The by by t and operation of an African The by laws help frame the community resource. can go to learn about the achievements and participation of African Americans in local
8 and national affairs, Family Heritage House Museum also fu nctions as a resource that strengthens African American families, inspires children, and provides outreach to the community. In order to understand how the museum functions as a resource it is necessary to situate Family Heritage House Museum historically within a scope of museum pedagogy. I situate Family Heritage House Museum as an ethnic museum, but before I discuss what this entails I provide an over view of how the modernist and postmodern museum conceptualizes knowledge, objects, and culture. To view a museum as single conceptual model is to negate the reality that museums are part of larger historical, social, economic, and cultural forces. Pedagogical Knowledge in the Modern and Postmodern Museum Prior to the industrial revolution, museum collecti ons were restricted to the ruling class or gentry. Many collections began as private trophies, exotic gifts, royal cabinets of curiosities, or more generally speaking, the luxuries of the wealthy class. The invention of the printing press, the spread of ed ucation in vernacular languages, the importance of the middle class, and political democracy contributed to a wider dissemination of knowledge. During the industrial revolution, migration toward the cities encouraged social reforms and education that was e asily accessible. It was during this context, that private collections were turned over to the government and were opened, if only slightly, to the public. The new public museums of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries relied heavily on these once priva te curio cabinets, the collections of scientists, travelers, and the ruling class.
9 However, these public museums were not easily assessable; the roots of their private collections haunted their public status. In Cannibal Tours and Glass Boxes Michael Ame s (1992) uses the example of the British Museum, which opened in 1759, to show the convoluted manner through which the museum excluded the masses and usually, individuals of esteem or high class The British Between months of September and April inclusive, from Monday to Friday the same hours on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday in May, June, July and August but on ) After potential visitors figured out when the museum was opened they had to undergo inspection: personal application was made to the porter at his lodge who inscribed in the register the name, condition (drunk, sober, clean, dirty, seemly of means or otherwise) after which the librarian or his understudy decided whether the applicant was proper for a (1992 :19 ) could be admitted at any one time, and that they would be escorted around in groups for a thirty ned by a growing museum profession which introduced a system of scientific classification to what were once jumbled and disorganized cabinets of curiosities. Many museum anthropologists and curators organized objects in progressive stages of evolution from cultures in the past, and ranks societies hierarchically. These practices were influenced by
10 cientific racism, and European superiority. The movement from private to public affected the way people interpreted museum collections. Private collections were the property of the collector, and visitors had always been taught to see a private collection as a personal statement of the educated classes gained a degree of control in how they were represented in the collections. With this control, they believed that museu world within a framework that emphasized their lived reality. Thus, the museum became (1992:21). Today, these values, representations, and interests of the educated class continue to exist in what Eliean Hooper Greenhill (2000) refers to as the modernist museum. The modernist museum (or what is sometimes referred to as the mainstream muse um) was exported world wide, the modernist museum was tasked with the production and 2000: 126). In Museums and the Interpretation of Visual Cultu re Hooper Greenhill (2000) focuses on pedagogy in the modernist museum, which arose out of the scientific classific ation of artifacts and specimen, and conceptualized knowledge as objective, unified, and transferable Hooper
11 Bounded up in the idea of the object, knowledge was viewed as objective and transferable. Knowledge moved from the expert (located within the museum sphere) to the novice (located within the public sphere). Through classification and objectivity, knowledge could be displayed because it was external to the knower. This approach to knowledge and learning still persists in museum practices today with a focus on Museums used to be defined by the ir relationship to their objects, but today, museums are defined by their relationship to their visitors (Kirsenblatt Gimblett 1998:138 on, which is central to modern day museums This is what Miriam Kahn ( 1995 ans of a 1995: 324). Mich el Foucault refers to gardens, carnivals, cemeteries, librar ies and museums as heterotopias (1986). Museum heterotopias would not exist without exhibition. Exhibition uses objects, labels, images, mann equi ns and recreated scenes. These objects are brought together, exhibition is a kind of magic or trick, a means that museums have devised for taming the objects that would otherwis Kahn 1995: 325) Exhibition detaches the subject from the object creating dissonance between the ordering system and what is represented (1995:325) F or the modernist museum, exhibition creates exhaust ing displays t hat conceptualize knowledge as bounded and static.
12 Hooper what the museum is for most of the twentieth century, and is still today, at the dawn of the twenty first century, what sprin (2000:151). The ideology behind the modernist museum is deeply entrenched in the legacy of the colonial past, and even as this idea is challenged and reworked, many of the characteristics of the modern museum will remain, including the heterotopic dissonance of exhibition. However, the effect exhibition has on museums should not be negatively described. Hooper together, and written or spoken about have political effects. These effects are not those of the object per se; it is the use of these objects and their interpretive framework that can practices yield to human agency. The postmodern museum is a new theory of museum practices that contains characteristics of the modern museum model, such as labels texts, and exhibition, but uses them to construct narratives that are less rigid and monolithic in scope. In the postmodern museum, exhibition is only one part of an array of events which will take place before and after the exhibit is displayed. These events can be tailored to the particular community where discussions, workshops, performances, dances, songs, and even meals may take place. This allows for multiple perspectives and voices to be disseminated. Hence, the meanings behind material artifacts are no longer viewed as singular, fixed, or stable, but as parts of a larger whole.
13 Hooper the fluidity of post modernism, with its indeterminacies, fragmentation, decanonisation, hybr postmodern museum knowledge is fragmented and dialogic, not monolithic. It is historically contingent and context specific, not inherent in material objects. Knowledge is part of cultur (2000:141). The model of the modernist museum is challenged through the principals of the postmodern museum. The one aspect of the postmodern museum that concerns this thesis is that it focuses distinctive light on histories that have not been told, countering dominate narratives. One of the fundame ntal goals of the ethnic museum is to challen ge dominate historical narratives as a means of celebrating ethnic identity. The Ethnic Museum T When the museum began in 1990 the vision for Family Heritage House was a research center. The change to museum status occurred when Family Heritage House moved to its current location on the State College of Florida campus in 2000. However, Fredi and Ernest worked to retain the core values of the Heritage House. In fact, the mo st current Is Family Heritage House Museum a modernist museum or a postmodern museum? T he question can be asked: is Family Heritage House Museum a museum?
14 institution in which social relationships are oriented in terms of a collection of objects which are made meaningful by those relationships though these objects are often un derstood by museum natives to be meaningful independently of those social Family Heritage House Museum is not a museum modeled after the modern or even a postmodern museum. Rather, I situate Family Heritage House Museum as an ethnic (or minority) museum. Ethnic museums are comprised of three main facets developmental freedom community centered, and forum The Family Heritage House Museum has these three characteristics. Most ethnic museums in the United States grew out of the Civil Rights Movement. Since ethnic museums are only at the beginning of their development they tend to be more creative and open to different and new museum forms and practices. By this, I mean, their use of labels, texts, display, exhibition, and structure are often more innovative. In the case of Family Heritage House Museums, their relationship with the State College of Florida provides them much freedom. Kathie Marsh, the Museum collection is owned by Fredi Brown, but is on permanent loan to State College of Florida. In return, State College of Florida gives Family Heritage House Museum the exhibition space at no cost, attempting to acquire an endowment, so they might be able to hire a full time curator, but as of now, Fredi Brown has full control over the museum, its exhibits, its programs, and its artifacts. Ethnic museums tend to have close relationships with thei r communities. Family
15 This means that Family Heritage House Museum emerged from the community rather than from the government or from private collections. relationship between African American museums and their communities permits the s often have a familiarity and truthfulness that cause the communities to feel a strong bond of kinship with the institutions Community involvement is touched on throughout my thesis. However, museum fliers from past events provide in sight into the different ways Family Heritage House Museum includes the community. I provide a few examples: Youth Day Fun Fest CHILDREN OF ALL AGES, TEENS, ADULTS!!! All are invited to Youth Day. Activities will include: Historical Reenactment of Abra ham, a Black Seminole leader, by Mr. Ralph Smith of Myakka State Park Interactive Train Exhibit by Sarasota Model Train Club Presentations on history and Safety by National Railway Historical Society Refreshments and Crafts A Film Viewing Miles of Smi les, Years of Struggle: The Untold Story of the Black A Riveting Documentary that includes original interviews, photographs, and move footage to chronicle the Pullman Porters pioneering efforts in American life, such as organizing the fi rst Movement, and much more! Nathari Writers Guild Nathari Writers Guild is an Organization of African American writers. Ms. Betty Bryers, Ms. Judy Candis, and Dr. Idelia Phillips will read excerpts from their novels and be available for autographs and discussion.
16 These events occurred during the first few years that the museum was open, 2001 2003. During my field work, day events like these tended to be less common, alt hough some events were held by the African American Student Union, including an event entitled 2010. During my fieldwork, I focused on attending the events that the museum sp Two Jims and a Nancy: A Tribute to Three Jazz Icons This event was held on February 4, 2011 in the Neel Performing Arts Center across from Family Heritage House Museum on the State College o f Florida campus. Thomas preformed the songs and music of Nancy Wilson, Jimmy Smith, and Jimmy McGriff. Close to a hundred people attended the concert at the auditorium. Afterward, a smaller group of thirty or forty individuals were invited back to the museum to listen to jazz albums and partake of some food. Typically, Family Heritage House Museum will Two Jims and a Nancy books, and a record player with piles of records for listening were put on display for the concert. Because the event was not focused on a particular exhibit, people did not feel conf ined to the exhibition gallery but instead roamed the museum. People were eating and talking in the research room, kids played in the children while parents wa ndered and looked at artifacts There is one common strand among the older day events and current exhibit centered events : to bring the community together.
17 Ethnic museums aspire to forums for the representation of diverse identities which sustain the educat ed class. Ethnic museum are usually formed by members of an ethnic group to collect and interpret the history, art, and culture of their own communities. Although they are diverse in mission and size, these museums have emerged because of the misrepresenta tion of ethnic history and culture in mainstream museums. For ethnic museum s heir heritage is their primary subject matter. The ( Gaither 1992: 59). Family Heritage House Museum is a resource that connects African American families, children, and the community to their heritage as a way of informing a racial identity that confronts a race worldview. As an ethnic museum, Family Heritage House Museum hig hlights the misrepresentation of African Americans in the historical narrative and confronts essentialist identities of African Americans in the present. Conclusion In this introduction, I outline Family Heritage House Museum as a resource that func tions to strengthen families in spire children, and provide out reach to the local community. As an ethnic museum, Family Heritage House uses exhibition, heritage, and race to confront essentialist identities of African Americans. Throughout this thesis, I use artifacts from Family Heritage House Museum to illustrate the multi faceted links between material culture and African American identity. Below, I provide a summary of the chapters and their focus. In Chapter T facts at Family Heritage
18 illustrate how Family Heritage House Museum is a resource that strengthens families, insp ires children, and provides out reach to the local commun ity. In Chapter T and Identity Formation, African American families, children, and the local community to their heritage. The material artifacts embody an African American identity that is manifested through their exhibition. In Chapter F I analyze three artifacts within Family Heritage House Museum that illustrate how race and racism is reflected in the life and work of famous African American figures, African American achievements, and through education on stereotypes, prejudices, and memorabilia. The next chapter begins with the entrance sign to the Family Heritage Ho use Museum.
19 Chapter 2 Resources on Exhibit: Artifacts at Family Heritage House Museum they use to find themselves on the map of human geography, it tells them where John Henrik Clarke. The above quote is printed on a white cardboard sign with a decorative bo rder, and held up by an easel that faces the entrance of Family Heritage House Museum. I had come to the muse um with a friend in December of 2009 because we were putting together a survey of museums in the Bradenton/ Sarasota area. Upon entering the museum, I took in the sign and read the quote a few times through; this was my first interaction with the museum. A the quote, the sign, and its relationship to the museum. I saw it as a powerful statement, one that set a tone, but its meaning goes deeper than simply aesthetic or mood. As an 1999: 42). consciously ic purpose ( Hooper Greenhill 2000: 106). An object on the other hand 2000: 104). There is a lot of overlap between the meanings of these two words, but th ey have different connotations. F or t his reason I do not use them interchangeably However, an artifact is an object because they both have the capability to ta ke the ephemeral and evanescent responses to culture and embed them in the materiality of things. In Cannibal Tou rs and Glass Boxes: The Anthropology of Museums Michael M. Ames writes he object as
20 heritage or sacred emblem: these are different ways of seeing the same thing. They are all properties or values of the objects, all phases of its life 1992: 144). The John Henirk Clarke quote encountered in the museum evokes something different tha n if that same quote was read it in its orig inal context, or even if it was encount er ed etched on a park bench. As an artifact, it bears multiple meanings which can be interpreted by moving between the whole and its parts or between the object and the viewer. Meaning is not static, but a circular dialogic process similar to a conversatio n. As Eilean Hooper O bjects are used to materialize, concretize, represent, or symbolize ideas and memories, and through these processes objects enable abstract ideas to be grasped, fac ilitate the ( 2000: 111). This deconstruction of objects highlights that know ledge resides within the individual, that it is people who make things meaningful. When I asked Fredi Brown, the co founder of Family Heritage House Museum, w hy she picked that quote to display she told me that it was actually her husband Ernest L. Brown Jr. who had chosen it. When I asked if she knew why he picked it, she replied: Fredi: Well, bec ause he had admired Clark as a historian, and my husband had been taught black history. We have a book, a notebook, full of lesson plans that his professor in Kansas City in High School used to teach black history. e lessons that he was taught? Fredi: Yes. Yes, so he knew his history, and Clark was one of his favorite historians, so he was the one who selected that quote. I wish I had taped more of his talks because when people would come in he would sit with them and talk about history. He had a depth of knowledge about the black experience, but I I have wonder ed whether the quote was something Fredi thought only he could recount to me. After over a year of participant observation at the
21 museum, I see Fredi Brown as someone with a deep knowledge about African American life and history but she does not assume what Ernest felt when he read the quote. Instead, material artifact in the museum a binder titled : Negro History. contains printed lesson plans, pictures, newspaper cut outs, and a few primary documents, all of which focused primarily on black history. These were the lessons Ernest was taught. Fredi moved our discussion with the reference of this binder which simultaneously touches on unequal dissemination of knowledge in the past. Fredi and I continued talking, and I asked her more about Ernest. She told me about his work in Detroit. Me: And he also worked for the Urban Le Fredi: Michigan Consolidated Gas Company Me: yeah Fredi: and he was a journalist at one time also too you know, he was a sports editor for Kansas City Call Me: And did those jobs contribute to his knowledge? Me: In history, but you get another type of knowledge through experience Fredi: or example, in Detroit when m y husband worked for the Urban L eague he was responsible for hiring black employees as sales people, and in the banks, you know, most of the women had been hired as was instrumental in changing that, and even in the gas company he would go around to different colleges, universities to recruit people for the company, and he
22 ace then, it had a good In this context, the John Henrik Clarke quote elicits a memory o f her husband. Complex in emotions, riddled with regret and compassion, she reflected on Ernest She talk ed about how his experiences in the Urban League, Michigan Consolidated Gas Company, and as a journalist co ntributed to his knowledge, his outlook, and provided him with a foundation to create change in their community. The John Henrik quote also prompted Fredi to reference the binder which was c One day, I told Fredi I wanted to learn more about Ernest and his life. She left the room and came back with a thic k binder titled The Life Work of Ernest Brown As I browsed through the binder that day she walked past the desk I was at, stopped, and ne of the reasons the quote is meaningful to Fredi is th at it embodies Ernest, his accomplishments and his dedication to service and their community. However, this is only one context from which Fredi draws meaning As Henry H. Glassie makes evident s objects] have 1999: 48). While the quote has multiple meanings and multiple pathways to meaning all the artifacts exhibited in Family Heritage House convey a sense of what Fredi and Ernest felt was important to preserve and remember. Exhibition is a key inst rument that turns the intangible repertoire of embodied knowledge into a tangible representation. In the context of the Family Heritage House Museum exhibition creates heritage. Exhibition creates a new relationship, what Barbara Kirshenblatt Gimblett cal ls
23 (collection, documentation, preservation, presentation, evaluation, and interpretation) to living persons, their knowledge, practices, artifacts, social worlds, 2004:1). W hat was once habitus is now heritage This process allows artifacts to be sources of information and vehicles for the aesthetic, sen sory, spiritual or emotional in character; or it may be a combination of Heritage House Museum are informational resources for families, children, and the local community bec ause of the context they are in the Family Heritage House Museum. The Family Heritage House Museum has three wings and a gallery: The Harmie Davis Baker Research Room. Annie Lucy Williams Children Room Carter G. Woodson Multipurpose Room, and The Etta Moten and Claude A. Barnett Gallery. The museum was structured and these rooms were created with the mission statement and by laws in mind. In the introduction, I explain that the mission statement and by laws form an idea of Family Heritage House Museum as a resource that strengthens African American families, inspires African American children, and provides out reach to the local community. In order to understand how the museum functions as a resource it is necessary to interpret Family Heritage I begin my analysis with the Harmie Davis Baker Research Room and a jar of soil hen, I examine the abundance of white d olls in the Annie Lucy Williams Children Room. I recount the event Latin Art,
24 Passion and Identity a documentary on baseball legend Roberto Clemente was shown in the Carter G. Woodson Multipurpose Room. Fina lly, I examine the display of two African busts and a letter within the Etta Moten and Claude A. Barnett Gallery. The Harmie Davis Baker Research Room The research room, which is properly known as t he Harmie Davis Baker Research R three wings. These wings along with a gallery were named after African Americans whom the Browns admired: the Etta Moten and Claude A. displayed, An nie Lucy Williams Children Room is a space where children can play with toys, read books, and watch videos, and the Carter G. Woodson Multipurpose Room is where the t raveling exhibits are set up, and where different events take place. Al l of these people the Browns have known abou t or been acquainted with except for Harmie Davis Baker. One day, as Fredi and I sat in the research room, I aske d how the rooms got their names. She briefly summarizes the significance of the names she and Ernest selected: Of c ourse Etta [Moten] was a concert singer and a movie actress in the days long before, in the 19 that sort of thing, you know, and also she taught [Ernest] Sunday school in Kansas C ity. Her father people. Annie Lucy Williams was a very dynamic woman who had done so much for the community, and for the children and the community that we thought it was very [fitting] s room after her, and of course Carter G Woodson was a great historian. T he only one that we did not know was the one that this research room was named for, and I had read that [obituary] up there in the paper when [Harmie Davis Baker] passed, and it was at the same time that we were doing this, and she sounded like somebody who would fit very well into the construct we had for naming the rooms, and she was also from Sarasota, so we wanted to bring Sarasota in it too.
25 Etta Moten personally, Fredi was aware of Annie Lucy Williams and her work with the children of the community of Bradenton, and they were both familiar with Carter G. Woodson as a historian. However, she points out that they did not know Harmie Davis Baker, but Baker was from Sarasota, and they wanted to include Sarasota in the scope of well into the construct we had for naming the Baker that moved Fredi to name the room for her? The obituary Fredi read in the news paper and a description of Harmie Davis Baker and the research room provide some insight. During an interview with Fredi th e two of us we were sitting down in the research room and wh en the conversation turned to M s. Baker she got up and moved toward her picture and an article that hung on the wall. The article was of M it was titled Legend Gone Home. Th e obituary had a photocopy of M that now hung next to it ; her gentle smile and the radiant blue of her dress capture the viewer (see fig ure Time, progress, and pro sperity afforded a car. She learned to drive Uh! Oh! Here Come walking along in her car (driving five miles per Nodding to, smiling at, and speaking to everyone set met; advising children and adults alike. Soft spoken and never a show of anger. She went smiling on her way, until health confined her to a nursing facility That did not stop her. She was probably the resident who was there the longest. Did she run the Home? Dare you ask? No one could eat, until she said the gra ce that her father said over their table She sent cards for whatever occasion and wrote resolutions when needed. Eyesight failing, tiring of the 99 years, she quieted down a few days ago.
26 rait (see figure 1). As Fredi and I stood squished in the corner of the room we ta her vivacious spirit sets a tone that is reflected in the layout and purpose of the research ro om. Figure 1: Harmie Davis Baker portrait [left] and obituary [right] for whom the room is named, was a Sarasota resident, a local historian, and businesswoman. She sold insurance, real estate, and black oriented newspapers. Very research room is described as pr oviding and research of the
27 teachers designing lesson plans for students or just reading a good book. It features various family portraits and art by Arthur Dillard and Gale Futon The association between the characteristics of Harmie Davis Baker and the function of the research room is open to interpretation. However, the obituary on the wall and the description of the room and Harmie Davis give the intangible characteristics, work, and life of Harmie Davis Baker resonance through the function and purpose of the room. I provide a detailed description of the Harmie Davis Research room and situate a jar of soil from groundbreaking ceremony within the context of the research room. There is a lot to take in when walking into the research room. The middle of the room is taken up by a wooden table with modified rocking chairs tucked underneath. To the left, books on African American studies, history, sociology, and anthropology are overflowing from their shelves. A large flat screen television breaks this choppy sea of books, while further along a stereo and cassette player sit neatly within a wooden entertainment unit C assettes and CDs of African American singers, musicians, and taped intervi ews have been left to mingle on top. The room also arranges an endless variety of research reports many of which are laid out, folder tabs up and visible. What sets this room apart from the others is that every wall holds one if not multiple portraits of individuals from the Bradenton community. O n display in the research room is a jar with the Manatee Community College (previously State College of Florida) emblem on i t that contains the first scoopful of soil aking ceremony in 1999 Its significance, which
28 As Kirshenblatt Gimblett writes the division between the tangible and the intangible the jar and personal meaning it conjures is arbitrary, but the association is persons and th (2004:3), or as Heather Whitmore writes ( 2003). The jar rests on a pedestal next to a stereo system. I tower over it and could read the text on top: First shovel of dirt from Family Heritage House Museum Ground Breaking February 17, 1999 Scooped by Mrs. Mary Hall, 94, long time resident of Manat ee County and mother of Family Heritage House co founder Mrs. Fredi Brown. M y eyes move d upward to see a series of pictures taken during the ceremony of Mrs. Hall, shovel in hand, scooping up the soil that has been preserved in the jar in front of me. Unassuming in presentation, this jar is the tangible representation of an intangible history that evokes the struggle and pride associated with the building of Family Heritage House Museum. The groundbreaking ceremony from which the soil and the photos co me make this divide between the tangible and intangible observable. As I began to learn about the construction of Family Heritage House M useum on th e State College of Florida campus, and all the set backs that Fredi, Ernest, the planning committee, friend s, family, and community members had encountered, the jar of soil from the ground breaking ceremony took on, a different meaning for me The building on the State College of Florida campus nd Ernest Brown actually began t he Family Heritage House in 1990 in a trailer on the Head Start c ampus in Bradenton, Florida. After Fredi retired from her job as the Equal Access/ Equal Opportunity coordinator at the State College of Florida, when she was instrumental in establishing
29 s cholarships for minority students, connecting students with local professionals in a mentor program, and creating community based study centers, s he and Ernest we nt looking for a space where they could display their collection At this time it consisted mo stly of reading materials The Head Start campus in Bradenton offered them a trailer that they were no longer using. It was actually a house trailer equipped with tiny bedrooms and a kitchen and the Browns used the living space to display their collection A few years later, Head Start gave them a slightly bigger trailer. It was an office trailer and provided the Browns with more space for their collection. In a 1997 video interview Fredi Brown laughs as she tells the reporter that when children come through the first thing Between 1990 1999 while Family Heritage House was located in the trailers on t he Head Start campus their collection mostly consisted of articles, newspaper clipping, posters, and books with a few artifacts. As we watched the video interview together, Fredi mentioned to me that the trailer got very crowded by the time they moved out so crowded th ey had to rotate clippings and articles in and out of display. It was on February 17, 1999 after seven years of design changes, money issues, and setbacks that construction began on the State College of Florida campus. Isera Tyson is a professor at State College of Florida and long time frien d of Fredi Brown; she was on the planning committee for the museum. I me t with her in her office at State College of Florida, a three minute walk from the museum, and we talked in more detail about some of the issues the Browns and the committee members faced during the Isera: I was actually on the planning board for the museum, and it was suppose to now all that, what happen with H urricane
30 Andrew in Miami. As we started to mee t to design the structure, and H urricane Andrew came along and really just crushed the size of the bui lding, everything. All our hopes and dreams for the heritage house we re crushed because the price of aluminum and copper when way way up, like doubled o r tripled, and we had to downsiz Originally, the museum was designed to be a free standing building, but as Isera exp lained, circumstances made this difficult, so the museum was built as an attachment to the library. This ultimately changed the layout of the rooms which drastically affected Fredi room contained a stage and seats where storytelling could take place and plays could be acted out. When I brought this up with Isera she explained to me how Fredi and Ernest dealt with the setback. Isera: Right and those little steps are up there now. Isera: [nods] but then there were those peo ple all dead in Miami from the h though, but we adjusted, and she and her husband moved in over there, and they made adjustments. Adjustments had to be made in more ways than one. Beverly and David Nas daughter and son in l aw, explained to me that it was affected the building of the museum. Rather, a lack of funding was prompted by a change in the d worked at the community college, and the president at the time [Dr. Kocheck] thought it would be great to bring them out there, but unfortunately h e retired before they finished [Family Heritage House Museum] was sup pose to be free standing, and they had planned it to look a little different. Why
31 Beverly: Well, I think it was a combination. I think if Dr. Korcheck had stayed there with the foundation more diligently to continue raising funds and to tap resources in the community eah, because we had taken my pa rents on a trip to Alabama and that is where they saw a book store up there and they just really liked the design and thought it would work well as a museum. Um, but you know Dr. had her own vision for the campus and what she wanted to do, and Family Heritage House was not high up on the list and now Hafner institutional shifts. Through frustration and uncertainty plagued the building of the museum, a speech give by Fredi during the Family Heritage House Museum 15 th Heritage House Museum has truly been a community pr oject. The contributors, volunteers, and visitors are too many to name here, but please know that I value and community. However, in November of 2010, there was nervous talk about the future of the museum because State College of Florida was planning on constructing a bigger library on the other side of the ca mpus and it was unclear what would happen to the current one and by proxy its attachment Family Heritage House Mus eum This is what Beverly is One day Fredi, Kathie, and I were talking and I mentioned how this could be an opportunity for them to expand the museum, or to have a bigge r space built for them. Fredi explained to me that if they moved again then that would be four times in twenty
32 years that the museum had changed locations. Plus, the museum, after h aving spent ten years on the State College of Florida campus, had collected more artifacts than at any other time. Fredi expressed little interest in mo ving again, telling me that she would rather just stay where they are for as long as they can. Other people I spoke to expressed similar sentiments. Regardless of the fact that th e museum did not end up as it was envisioned, no one had any desire to change or move. Everyone involved with the building of the museum had to make a lot of adjustments not only in size and structure of the building, but as Isera put it, in their hopes and dreams for the museum. The i ntangible desire for a physical museum is bound up in the notion that the creation of Family Heritage House Museum was a community effort community resource for the study of African American achieveme nts and participation in the progress of the United States laws. The research room is a center for individuals to learn about and reflect on the accomplishment of local and nationally recognized African Americans, as reflected in the function of the room and the individual for whom it is named. In the context of the research room, the jar of soil from the ground breaking provides insight into the struggle associated with getting the museum built and the pride reflected in the final ou tcome of initiative that was central to shaping the museum. The Annie Lucy Williams Children Room
33 On the back wall of the t to the research room, hangs a portrait of Annie Lucy Williams. I discovered this same portrait in a folder of articles titled Annie Lucy Williams In an arti Service to Children from December 11, 2004, there is a picture of William s two daug hters holding the same portrait of their mother in front of the recently named Annie Lucy Williams Elementary School located in Manatee County In the article, one of s remembers her mother: f any child came to h er hungry at the youth center, t h y mother would move heaven and We would come home and there would be kids at the ell, he said colorful posters, there is a direct association between Annie Lucy Williams and the focus of the room. Fredi used the word dynamic to describe Annie Lucy Williams and there is no better way to desc ribe the ro om named in her honor. look of a play room. There is a large play rug, the kind tha t is often found in pre schools and kindergarten classrooms The rug is blue with little red, green, and yellow colored feet all over it. It covers the majority of the room leaving a raise d platform of bleacher like seats and a miniature stage around it (this is the outcome of the original idea for a stage) Every inch of floor outside the boundary of the rug is littered with t oys, dolls, games, movies, musical instruments, and books. In February 2010, I was able to see one group of children interact with this room, and they came as part of a field trip. To pay homage to past field trips a large construction paper letter was t aped to the wall of the It had been signed
34 by students and teachers and Providence Community School Elementary school field trips are common among private and home school childr en, but during Black History Month the number of scheduled fi eld trips from public schools ri se s As Black History month approached and the calendar on the back of the office door filled up with field trip visits Kathie and Fredi asked me if I would be wi lling to come in early and help out with a big group of students coming from one of the public schools. Having spent the last couple weeks making goodie bags and filling them with coloring books and trinkets for the upcoming field trips I was eager to hel p out. The morning of the field trip, about forty kids entered single file into the museum obv iously on their best behavior. Some smiled and waved as they walked pass us into the Carter G. Woodson Multipurpose Room. They sat down and watched a movie abo ut Harriet Tubman. Afterward, the students were given handouts for a museum treasure hunt which had the pictures and names of different objects in the museum that they had to match up with acronyms for the different rooms in the museum: G Etta Moten/Claude Barnett Gallery, MPR Carter G. Woodson Multi Purpose Room, CR Annie Lucy Har mie Davis Baker Research Room. Fredi explained the treasure hun t as a way of seeing the museum: things you h ave to go through so many other things. So you really get a pretty good view of wha The kids were paired off and wander ed the museum to look for the different artifacts. Moving in an d out of the rooms, I ended up following a group of kids into t he was surprised to see a few of the kids give up their treasure hunting
35 endeavor and run toward the toys. They were intercepted by their teacher who yelled at them not to touch anything. I felt it was my place to say something, and I to ld the teacher teacher lowered her voice and whispered harshly The more I thought about this the more I thought about how it direct ly contradicted to inspire children to have respect for their ancestors, a love for lear ce, and lecture is paramount to reaching families, community, and especially to inspiring children. All artifacts and objects have the capacity to inspire. Sherry Turkle writes that spects of the self are deeply enmeshed, relationships with objects have much to do with family, 2009:297). how objects can and have inspired young scientists. What was fun to pla y and tinker with in childhood can be intimately inspiring in adulthood. The unpredictable thing about objects and artifacts is that no one can determi ne what ideas they will inspire in children later on. This made me think about a conversation that Fredi and I had about the and on exhibit feel like if I was a lot younger I would have so much fun in the Fredi: A nd this is a hands Me: R ight, why did you want a room like that?
36 Fredi: Well, um, the room, building had been larger, if it had been a separate building that was our original plan, to have a free standing building and that room was going to have a rounded wall, where the seats are, and the seats would have been around the wall, and that platform was going to be a stage, and it would be a place where story telling could take place, so that was our original plan. We saw this as a place where families could come in and read to their children, a nd even have them act out some of the stories and that sort of thing, but our stage turned into just a little people ask us why do we have all these white dolls? B ut the dolls a re a collection of a woman in Bradenton. She had collected all these dolls, and when she died her family donated them to the museum. Me: So does it matter that there are white dolls? Fredi: No because she was a black woman, and you had very little a ccess to black dolls in the past. Although, there were some out of Germany, but not very many; very few people had black dolls. Those [white dolls] were very much a part of our a nd cray ons and what not for them to do so we try to have enough variety in there s layout because of lack of funding, which was mentioned in the previous section. She y type of child. The white dolls are particularly interesting in their capacity to inspire. For Fredi, the color of the dolls does not matter because the woman who owned them, who cared for them, and who played with them as a child was African American. T he white dolls are reminiscent of a time when black dolls were not accessible. For many who grew up in the 1930s and 1940s, this was part of life, but for children and young adults now it is difficult to imagine that it was not always possible to walk dow n the toy isle and pick up an
37 Kathie Marsh, the museum specialist, expressed to me a concern that as people forget what the generation before them had to go through they This is a mul tilayered idea which points to a fear of forgetting the past. If African Americans, the historical association embodied in the display of the white dolls becomes difficu lt to grasp. Likewise, Jim Crow segregation becomes perceived as something that happened a long time ago. I responded to this concern with a question Me: Is that why there is such a strong emphasis on teaching African American history to all children and as the mission statement states, specifically to black children to Kathie: T Me: R Kathie: R ight, so it s good for everyone to know, but when the group, that particular group what actually people had to go through to even get what they get, and even a generation before mine when you say o go through what my mother went had to go down at a restaurant; tha s but nywhere near a store that concept. You can go into Red Lobster in the front door K athie explains that teaching African American history reaches all eth nic groups. It encourages all children to respect their ancestors and to learn about their heritage. There is, however, a distinction because of the unique history of African Americans. Thus, t eaching African American children the intricacies of African Am erican history becomes a source of empowerment.
38 The Family Heritage House Museum informational pamphlet describes the as a space has a built in seating suited for story tell ing and group sharing. It houses a display of Although the original design was altered, the current layout focuses on inspiring children through activities which foster group sharing. Within the context of the Annie Luc he white dolls left out for children to play with, may inspire children to think about their heritage, history, racism, equality, inequality, their ancestors, or themselves. The materiality of the color line seen in the white dolls off ers children the opportunity to be inspired by African American heritage. The Carter G. Woodson Multipurpose Room groups. It has exhibition space as well as a large screen for viewing educational materials and other exhibit that passes through the multipurpose room, Family Heritage House Museum will host an event where people from the community come; then a lecture, discussion, slide show, o r a movie will be shown, and after food is served cheese, crackers, grapes, cream puffs, and punch. People will stand around eating, chatting, checking out the museum and the new exhibit. The open ended structure of the multipurpose room situates education as a central component. The work of Carter G. Woodson, for whom the
39 Carter G. Woodson (December 19, 1875 April 3, 1950) was a historian, author, and journalist who dedicated most of his life to the preservation and celebration of African American history. In September 9, 1915 Woodson founded the first national African Ameri can preservation organization, t he Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASALH) ASALH is devoted to the preservation, analysis, and celebration of African American life, history, and culture (Ruffins 1992:536). It supports an environment where African Americans could debate and interpret their history. Also, local chapters focus on preserving local histories and personal memories of community members. In 1916, Woodson began The Journal of Negro History (now The Journal of African American History .) This journal was meant to engage and appeal to African American intellectuals and historians. In 1926, to preserve African American heritage became which occurred during the second week in February. In 1976, the week was expanded to the Woodson i association, published work, and the programs he sponsored were pivotal in the history of African American preservation In The MisEducation of the Negro feelings of racial inferiority would be addressed by having greater knowledge of a positive African Americans on African American history, accomplishments, and African origins rather than the proposed origin of enslavement would help to combat racial stereotypes. Carter G. Woodson, like many African American intellectuals writing during the 19 th and 20 th century W.E.B DuBois, George W. Williams, Sir Clair Drake were of the
40 vindi cationist vain. They all claimed the African American history was a corrective for unexamined racist ideology. This will be examined further in Chapter Four. The rotatin g exhibit to the museum. By this I mean the event contextualizes the exhibit by providing a new perspective on the objects and information contained in the display. I provide a more detailed example from my fieldwork. During my thirteen months of fieldwork I saw five exhibits come through Family Heritage House Museum The first event I attended was for the exhibit Latin Art, Passion & Identity The event consisted of a speech by the curator who talke d about the art work which was exhi bited in the multipurpose room. S he spoke about the medium the artist s used, the themes they painted, the significance of each painting in terms of Latin American identity, and how each painter, including herself, came to paint them. Afterward, refreshments were served and we all settled down to watch a documentary about the life of Roberto Clemente. Clemente (August 18, 1934 December 31, 1972) was a very talented and successful Puerto Rican baseball player He played for the Pittsburg Pirates during the 1950s till his tragic death in an airplane crash in 1972. Due to both his success on the field and the racial climate of the time he experienced the brutal hand of racial inferiority from his team mates and the media; the media was known to phonetically quote him to poke fun at his heavy accent. However, Clemente quickly became an activist for equal rights and passionately voiced his opinions about racism and equality. The documentary we watched was a TV rec ording of an ESPN special about The documentary was very engaging and everyone was interested in his
41 story However, the first time the video went to commercials I expected someo ne to come in and fas t forward through them, but that never happened. People started to look around and I thought maybe I should be in charge of fast forwarding through the commercial segments. It felt awkward to be showing commercials from 2000 during a screening at a museum in 2010, but neither Fredi nor Kathie seemed at all concerned, so I decided not to worry about it. After a while, when the commercial breaks came on people would get up, chat, run to the bathroom, or grab some cheese and crackers from the spread of food in the other room. No one complained; they just treated the commercials like commercials, like we were E i l ean Hooper Greenhill writes that because of the frame within which they are placed: thus a brick might be used to build a wall, smash a window, warm a bed, or prevent a car from rolling away. In each case it is the same 2000: 117). In the context of the museum event, the docu mentary about Roberto Clemente was used to bridge an exhibit about L atin American art and identity to a museum about Africa American heritage. From the collection at the museum it was evident that the Browns are sport s lovers In fact, o rst jobs was as a sports editor for the Kansas City Call where he often wrote about the unequal status of black men and women in sports. F rom baseball, football, golf, track, basketball the museum has collected a rather large amount of sport memorabilia Showing the video about Roberto Cl emente tied the exhibit which was about Puerto Rican art and identity to issues of racial inequality, sports, and African American heritage
42 The Etta Moten and Claude A. Barnett Gallery T he Etta Moten and Claude A. Barn ett G allery is where the exhibit Timeline: A Walk Through History permanent exhibit, and is located in a large glass display case. On the top shelf of the gallery there are two carved wooden busts an d a letter which is situated between the two sculptures ( see f ig ure 2). The wooden busts are tall poi sed profiles of a man and woman. T he letter was sent with a picture of the busts to Fredi and Ernest Brown from their previous owner. It reads: Hello Mr. and Mrs. Brown, A while back I read a very interesting article about you and your museum in the Bradenton paper. Enclosed is a picture of two African busts I have that I have wanted for some time to find a museum to donate them to. There is a li ttle story behind them, which makes them more interesting. Back during WWII a friend of mine was stationed in North Africa where he was seriously wounded, and while he was recuperating, waiting to come home he became acquainted with an elderly native man w ho carved the busts for him. To make a long story short in the early 1970s he brought these busts and asked me to take care of them for him because he had to go to the army hospital for more serious surgery. He said it was uncertain whether he came back or not and he thought [I would take] better care of d he that they are safely in a museum. The first time I noticed the display I was captured by its content and presentation. W hen I asked Fredi why she decided to exhibit the letter wi th the wooden busts she told me : thought
43 Figure 2: African Busts and Letter Fredi saw the letter as belonging to the busts. The busts are not meaningful without the letter, and the letter is not meaningful without t he busts. The exhibition of the busts and the letter offer insight into what Fredi and Ernest hoped the exhibit, as a whole, would achieve because the busts and the letter are an artifact which the Browns made. The busts and l etter are, to use Kirshenblatt ( 1998:18 ). The busts without the letter do not have the same resonance. The letter has very little to do with or say about the crafting or creat ion of these objects; it does not tell us what part of Africa they ca me from, or what group of people carved them. The letter allows the viewer to glimpse it. This is possible through the frame in which the artifacts are displayed. The wooden busts and letter each other, but together as one artifact they are placed in context by the larger
44 organizational and category making devices of the museum. In museums, some of the most common categorical devices are labels, pamphlets, tables, charts, docent tours, and what has become a staple of the larger (both in size and budget) museums, the use of multimedia. However, artifacts can also be put into context by means of lectures, performances or educational programs like field trips, al l of which have occurred at Family Heritage House Museum at one point in time. One example of a category making device is Fami informational pamphlet for the Timeline: A Walk Through History exhibit This information al guide breaks down the exhibit into fifteen stations: Station 1 Outdooring if a Child: An Ancient African Tradition Station 2 Taharka (Kush), Imhotep, and others of Antiquity Station 3 The Middle Passage (1592 1861) Station 4 Fredrick Douglas s : Fight for Freedom (1818 1895) Station 5 Emancipation Proclamation Station 6 Early Self Government: Eatonville, Florida Station 7 Social Institutions: Fraternal Orders Station 8 Chronicling Our Hi story: Carter G. Woodson Station 9 The Harlem Renaissance (1925 1935) Station 10 Educating the Masses: Ma r y McLeod Bethune Station 11 The New Deal Era: Putting People to Work Station 12 Lighting the Way: Brown vs. Board of Education Station 13 Forty Liv es for Freedom: Some Heroes of the Battle Station 14 Getting It Together: Seven Principals of Kwanzaa Station 15 A New Day Begins: Free Elections in South Africa The busts and letter are classified as belonging to Station 2 Taharka (Kush), Imhotep, a nd others of Antiquity attention to the contributions of African Americans in world development and the presence of Africans in many other parts of the w T he busts and letters are given a particular frame of reference which viewers can use to help locate the historical, social, and symboli c significance of the artifact.
45 Through categorical and meaning making devices, museums create objects of visual interest Zoology as a small child where she saw a giant crab on display: I had never seen a crab that size an d had therefore not imagined it was possible. It was not only the size of the whole but of each of its individual parts. One could see the way it was made: hug claws, bulging eyes, feelers, raised bumps of shell, knobbly joints, hairs that extend around th em. It was placed in the corner of a case so that one could walk around from the front to the side and take another view: a smallest main body delicately supported on improbably long legs, like the thins of a huge fork or rake. I could attend to the crab i n this way because it was still, exposed to view, dead. Its habitat and habits of rest, eating and moving were had heighted, by isolating, these aspects, had encouraged one to look at it in this way (1991:25) I ha ve also had a similar experience. When I first went to the National Museum of Natural History on the National Mall I saw the Hope Diamond. It was spinning around and sparkling in the light of its little glass case; its size was accentuated. When I think ba ck on this display I only remember these features. I never think about what allowed me to see them. Exhibition is an instrument that adds value to objects, places, and people, but is often concealed and pushed into the background. The way information pass es between the viewer and the viewed in exhibition is a complex process which many museum professionals have begun to reconsider. In explains that looking at an artifact does not involve a values, idea, and purpose from which the object comes, (2) then, there are the values,
46 ideas, and purposes of the curators, and finally (3) the ideas, values, and purposes of the viewer. In this view, exhibition is conceptualized as a constantly changing process rather tha n a static one. There are multiple voices involved in the interpretation of a display. Likewise, (Kishenblatt Gimblett 1998 ) Kirshen blatt Gimblett gets at this issue when she asks in Destination Culture: Tourism, Museum, and Heritage that are of little visual interest? Why ask the museum visitor to look closely at something These questions can best be approached with ethnic museums like Family Heritage House Museum. In these museums, collections tend to reflect personal experiences and priorities. (Crooke 2007: 8) The question becomes, what were the experiences and priorities that motivated Fredi and Ernest to pick certain artifacts and not others for the Timeline exhibit ? An interview with Fredi provides some insight: Me: Talking about the main exh Ti What kind of discussions went into it? Did you and your husband design that exhibit? Why did you focus on certain time periods and not others? Fredi: Well, because I thought people would make connections from one period to another, and because of the typ e of collection we had that would fit it. I had selected the items, and we had the signs made before this place was completed, but actually, I had help with placing them in their different cabinets, but we, my husband and I, had selected the items to go in to the cabinets, but Hayes and Gail Futon Ross [Hayes and Gail Futon Ross are friends of Fredi and Ernest; Futon Ross is also a local artist] helped us to place them. Fredi explains that the content in the exhibit depended on what they had collected. All m useum exhibits are contingent upon this one factor. Museums must work with what they have to make their message clear. Fredi also explains that she and Ernest put the Timeline exhibit together with the hope that people could make connections between time
47 p eriods. These connections are created through the exhibition process, but are actively felt as emotional responses to material artifacts. One extreme example of this is what happened when John W. Franklin visited the museum in 2011. John W. Franklin is the son of historian John Hope Franklin (1915 2009). John W. Franklin is the director of partnerships and international programs at the Smithsonian Institution. He has been touring the state and visiting museum s in order to create partnerships with the Nation al Museum of African American History and Culture which will begin construction on the National M all in 2012. As part of this tour, he came to the Family Heritage House Museum to exchange information. Fredi: We had a visitor recently who was the son of J ohn Hope Franklin, did you know about that? Me: Kathie told me. Fredi: A about that and also the person for whom the gallery was named [Etta Moten] Me: Y eah, he said he knew her or that his father knew her Fredi: Y es, he knew her and he said that was his favorite girl. She was a very classy lady Me: Aw It must be really exciting when things like that happen. When I came in the day after both Fredi and Kathie were ecstatic as they From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans (1947) in the gallery and w as emotional over the display. He also reminisced when he found out the gallery was named after Etta Moten who m he had known very well. Although John W. Franklin was an exceptional example, Kathie informed me that people make connections on a more local level. She provided me with a personal anecdote from when her family went to visit the museum during a family reunion. I had my family reunion here last summer. Well, we had our reunion in Sarasota/Bradenton. One of the things I had everyone do be fore we did before our
48 cook out that Saturday was for everyone to come over here to see the museum, and my son in law came in and he saw that plaque right there [Bryant Grocery Store] e saw that and then he went into the other room and saw the picture of the nine devils and he said that when he was growing up someone in his neighborhood used to talk about the nine devils and he thought that they were just telling stories, and he found o ut the nine devils really did exist, so there is a lot of that because So it gets exciting wh en you get that personal touch. There is a lot of history that Kathie explains that connections often occur in the Family Heritage House Museum because there is a lot of local African American history that people from the area of Manatee and Sarasota County can relate to their lived experiences. Historical connections are made, but so are emotional and per in law and John W. Franklin identified with artifacts in personal and emotional ways. in law was a Bryant and was excited when he saw the sign and poster board ocery Store and the information on the nine devils, and Heritage House Museum are significance because they function as resources that allow African American to connect to their heritage. Not through single or pre determined connections prescribed by a curator or specialist, but multiple, fluid connections that open avenues of identity formation. Conclusion
49 In this chapter I analyze the spatial structure of the Family Heritage House Museum through the use of artifacts in order to illustrate that the museum is a resource for African American families, children, and the community. All four examples illustrate how the intangible is made tangible through artifacts. In the Harmie Davis Research Room I discuss the significance of a jar of soil from the Highlighting the tangible inta ngible divide between the jar of soil and the history associated with the struggle to build Family Heritage House Museum and the pride in what it has accomplished. I n Annie Lucy s Room I discuss how a collection of white dolls in the room works to inspire children. Such dolls are sources of information that tell about life before Jim Crow was deemed unconstitutional. In the Carter G. Woodson Multipurpose Room I explain how a documentary on baseball legend Roberto Clemente bridges cultural differences among communities. The context in which the documentary is used gives it meaning that reaches into the life of Ernest and the mission of the museum. In the Etta Moten and Claude A Barnett Gallery, I use an artifact of two African busts and a le tter sent from their previous owner to deconstruct how exhibition connects African Americans to their heritage. Individuals emotionally respond to artifacts in the museum that they link to their lives. As a reso urce, the museum connects families children, and the community to African American heritage This is the focus of C hapter Three
50 Chapter 3 Embodied Connections: African American Heritage and Identity Formation O ne day, upon walking into the museum Fredi asked me if I had recently seen the book Mules and Men by Zora Neal e Hurston anywhere around the museum My mind y eyes shifted ahead beyond Fredi, toward a much cluttered book shelf. She look ed back, and she said that she had already looked there. She explained that it would not have been there because it had always been part of the Timeline: A Walk through History exhibit in the ad walked by the display and realized that it was gone and now she had no idea where it could be. Although I was puzzled as to how an artifact in a museum could vanish without a trace, the bleakness in her voice made me say nothing else other than I would try to look for it. The book was an original copy, published in 1935, and it had been given to Fredi when she was a young girl; we never found it. The material world makes up daily life. Hooper surrounded by objects at all time s, among which we live, work and take our leisure. They Often times, we do not realize their significance until they are gone. In Ruud The Broke n Mug the main character is running late for work. In the mist of his hectic morning routine his coffee mug breaks. His shirt seeping with coffee, he notices the mug for the first time. The more he realizes how much he enjoyed the mug, the more he mourns it. Kaulingfrek writes,
51 It is true that objects come and go cups break and people loos e things Mules and Men was not just a cherished personal possession, it was also part of the museum. The book was part of Family Heritage House, its history and mission. Moreover, it was part of the Timeline: A Wa lk Through History exhibit that she and Ernest had put together ten years prior. During the construction of this exhibit Fredi and Ernest picked artifacts with personal and familial sentiments that they thought would capture important time periods in Afric an American history, and allow visitors to make connections between them. The artifacts they exhibited depended on what they had collected from community members, their own personal possessions such as the famous novel of Florida heritage, and a few family heirlooms. These artifacts are deeply intertwined with the In the 1997 video interview mentioned in the last chapter, Fredi and Ernest spoke about the purpose of Family Heritage House Museum and what t hey hoped to accomplish with the new museum. In the interview, Fredi and Ernest proposed that a larger space and new location would allow them to expand their collection and increase their efforts at community outreach. Fredi said that the focus of Family Heritage House Museum is In the same interview, Ernest Brown touches on other important topics, one of which was the need to en he Family Heritage House encourage s all people to come and pursue to revive, to get s ome
52 for a change in attitude. We ask people to think. Think based on fact He continues by s aying that if people are encouraged to think more about the history and culture of African American after visiting Family Heritage House Museum then there will be a curiosity to do research on their own and this will lead to an understa nding of the human c ouse is only one dimension of all the things we need in our community. It is a meaningful, sustaining contribution; it will improve the quality of life for all of us nious communities with an elaboration on harmonious understanding: We need to think in term of harmony; not harmony built in terms of love, but out of understanding. Harmony built out of the realization that to not give each individual his wager of respect also weakens our own claim to being human, and that there is a breakdown in the total strain of our humanity. We have to recognize that if we are to continue to forge ahead with the full belief that we do have a mission in life, that we do have a purpose in life, as individual and a s people who have been given the designation of being human to make this humanity a working reality. Family Heritage House contributes to some technique, some resource for doing that. According to Ernest, harmony built out o f understanding is what all people should be moving towards. Harmonious understanding is bound up in respect for one another and personal empowerment. Family Heritage House Museum was built on his personal ection Mules and Men personal possession, but it was also a way of connecting families, children, and the community to the sentiments described above. These sentiments are a product of social relations that are deeply embedded in the scope and mission of the museum. It is the artifacts that make these sentiments tangible through the exhibition of African American heritage. What does this imply about the loss of the book? Does it make the loss worse,
53 more difficult to bear? Surely, Fredi did not like it when I mentioned anthropology because it remaindered her of Zora Neale Hurston. In Chapter Two, I illustrated that Family Heritage House Museum was a resource for African American families, children and the community. In this chapter, I discuss that through the exhibition of African American heritage Family Heritage House Museum provides families, children, and the community with a physical representation of the ephemeral and slippery concept of identity (Smith 2006); particularly, an African American identity. I focus on three material artifacts a traveling t runk, the collectio and a portrait of Ernest L. Brown Jr. I focus on single artifact s because their multiple manifestations are what make heritage, and deserve closer inspection. The traveling trunk turns our attention to the Brown family while also providing a diff erent representation of African Americans in history. The collection k Heritage Trail by the Florida Division of Historical Resources Because of the legitimization of this collection, it is often used as the primary educational material for children and students who come through the museum. Finally, I examine a portrait of Ernest L. Brown Jr. which is connected to the exhibit From Obscurity to Excellence: Celebrating Black Achievements in Sports The exhibit and the portrait evoke eight characteristics or community values that bind the community to the museum. I begin by re viewing theory on heritage, exhibition, and the formation of identity.
54 Exhibiting Heritage H istory and heritage is no t the same thing David Lowe n thal differentiates between the two History, he explains, tells all who will listen what has happened and how things came to be ( 1998:128) exclusive myth s of origin and continuance, endowing a select group with prestige and 1998:128). History and h eritage transmit different things to diffe rent people, and they evoke the past in different ways. Lowenthal writes 1998:139 ). This quote highlights two theoretical aspects of heritage: 1) Heritage is ab out the past, but it also has recourse to the present (Kirshenblatt Gimblett 2004), and 2) Although heritage is collective, it allows each individual who shares in a heritage to treat it as personal memory (Lowenthal 1998). How is heritage able to simultaneously represent the past and the present? And how are individuals able to treat collective heritage like personal memory? Answering these questions means deconstructing heritage. In this section, I present two important poi nts that explain that heritage is in the present. The first point is that heritage begins with what individuals inherent and becomes collective. The second point is that heritage is not lost, found, or reclaimed; it is created for the benefit of the presen t. Lineal linkages are why people hold on to possessions or family heirlooms passed down from generation to generation. Heirlooms have the appearance of outdated us, t is because when individuals inherit heirlooms they also inherit a family duty that binds
55 them to their family lineage. s The personal and familial legacies embedded into the heirloom become collective when individuals share what they inherit. Fredi and Ernest Brown share their personal and family legacies through the Family Heritage House Museum by turning heirlooms and history into heritage. (Kirshenblatt Gim blett 2004:369). She explains that heritage is not lost, found, stolen, or reclaim, but rather the heritage industry creates something new. Kirshenblatt Gimblett instrumen ts of heritage production as dance teams, heritage performers, craft cooperatives, cultural centers, art festivals, museums, exhibitions, recordings, archives, indigenous media, and cultural curricula. As instruments of heritage they add value to the cultu ral forms and social relationships they embody. These added values are pastness, exhibition, difference, and ingenuity. These values contribute to the survival of places and practices in danger of becoming obsolete, disappearing, or being forgotten. In the context of a museum, an heirloom in danger of being forgotten is given the value of exhibition, which makes it an artifact. In museums, the relationships which make artifacts meaningful are often taken for granted. When an artifact is put on exhibit, the label and text along with the design of the display tell museum visitors what they should know. This knowledge comes to be seen as inherent characteristics of the artifact itself, but actually, t he artifact is inherently
56 out of context within a museum bec ause t he artifact on display was not how it was o riginally intended to be seen or used Exhibition adds value to artifacts in the Family Heritage House Museum Exhibition separates the subject from the object creating an estrangement, or a heterotopic dis sonance. As more museums begin to develop in opposition to the model of the modernist museum, exhibition becomes critical for the representation of identity. Kirshenblatt Gimblett explains that the exhibition of artifacts creates an interconnected space be tween two or more concepts, or what is referred to as 2004). Kirshenblatt messages: mul ticulturalism, nationalism, ethnic pride, and empowerment to be transmitted along with heritage. This makes heritage about the present. In Family Heritage House Museum, African American families, children, and the local community are connected to their he ritage through the display of heirlooms, collections, and artifacts. In the next section, I analyze one of the Brown family heirlooms, a collection of artifacts on The Underground Railroad, and a portrait of Ernest in Family Heritage House Museum. The Tr aveling Trunk As I sat in the research room with Fredi, I asked her why she and Ernest decided on the name Family Heritage House Museum; why such an emphasis on family? Fredi: My husband and I agreed that the family was very important, an d especially the black family. We thought that was more important a connection then African American or Black American, or whatever, Negro, or
57 be an emphasis on doing things that reached f amilies, and that they could feel a (Emphasis mine) The above quote captures how important the notion of family is for the Browns and for the message they are sending with the museum. It is a connection. This emphasis on families is evident in the name of the museum, Family Heritage House Museum. It is also ise, this emphasis on family is The traveling trunk (see figure 4) is one artifact in the museum that provides a Thomas Brown. In a video recording of a local TV show called Manatee Now Ernest shows off the trunk and situates it historically. He recounts that after slavery ended some recently freed slaves moved west and worked as cowboys, ranchers, trappers, expres s riders, freight drivers, among other professions. Samuel Thomas Brown was an entertainer, and he followed this movement of men out west. He would sing songs, play music, and tell funny stories and jokes. Sometime, he would even gamble with the men,
58 Figure 3: The Traveling Trunk During the Manatee Now interview Ernest elaborates on aspects of the trunk: had a little space, but he did have a writing table, ink wells, and pigeon holes where he could keep things. He also had a hat and there is a place where it can sit in the trunk. contained a few business cards and coupons that date back to 1905. I spoke with Fredi and her daughter, Beverly Nash, about the significance of the traveling trunk. I started all my interviews with the same question: what is your favorite object in the museum, and why? When I began my fieldwork, I was interested in the idea 1998:3) and that certain objects have the propensity to mediate life histories. I wondered
59 experiences as they related to th eir heritage. Although my research led me in another direction, I continued to begin all my interviews with this question. When I asked this question to Fredi and her daughter Beverly, they had similar responses and reasons for why the traveling trunk was their favorite. I first interviewed Fredi: Me: Fredi: [taps the picture of the traveling t runk in front of her on Family Heritage House Museum pamphlet] this one. Me: The trunk. Fredi: [laughs] Me: W hy? Fredi: Well, because it provides a different picture of what we think of as the black experience because it obviously has some evidence that there was some money involved, I mean, some of the silver items in there with the mirror that has the date on it, [the trunk] has a place for a top hat. It just is so different fro m what we think of the past of b lack Americans e museum, if you could pick one? and why? Beverly: Y eah, I that th at r one imagine as bizarre as travel is now can you imagine trying to go around with a trun k like that with a writing desk? Course, I guess they mostly used that on the train anyway. Me: Y ou always sort of remember it being there? Beverly: Y eah, I remember it always being there.
60 Beverly: N o and it just conjures up these images of a whole different era, and I gu ess, as an African American, the thought that someone was sophisticated enough that they had that kind of stuff to travel with. that they show of black people in the 20s Me: S Beverly: R ight, he had to be a pretty snazzy guy traveling with that trunk with the From these interview e xcerpts, there are two interpretations of the trunk that are important: 1) the trunk is an heirloom that symbolizes the familial legacy of the Browns, and 2) the trunk is an artifact in a museum that counters stereotypical representations of African Americ ans in the present. To Fredi and Beverly the traveling trunk was something they remembered, as it tells a story of the Brown family. Fredi told me she remembers h er how her children remember playing in the trunk, but she did remember that th e trunk was always something she and her brothers really liked, and that it was probably a good thing that it fact that inheriting an heirloom consists of more than the a cquisition of goods. As Personal legacies of love and duty remain crucial to being born, growing up, parenting, and aging. And the fundaments of collective heritage derive from 1998: 32). The trunk is a family heirloom that embodies the Browns family legacy.
61 Another reason the trunk is significant to Fredi and Beverly is because it provides a different representation of African Americans. T he traveling trunk with its silver mirror, shaving set and esteemed business and membership cards provides a different picture of how African Americans lived in the past. Samuel Thomas Brown was a man who must guy traveli personal legacies of the traveling trunk come to symbolize the collective characteristics of African Americans in the present. In the Family Heritage House Museum the traveling t runk is preserved as heirloom and an artifact. This preservation is important because prior to 1965, many academics were under the assumption that primary sources on African American life, history, and culture were rare; even though academic historians lik e W.E.B. Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson, and Lorenzon Greene had been writing about African American history since the 1890s. This was, in part, due to that fact that the largest collections of African American materials were preserved in historically black mu seums and black colleges, and were not read outside those institutions (Ruffins 1992:508). The lack of material preservation has created a sense of lost history and information about the past of African Americans. This uneven record of African American mat erial culture has influenced the idea that black people were marginal to the main narrative of the American past (1992:506).
62 Fredi and Ernest felt that the traveling trunk needed to be shared with the wider community of Bradenton because a narrow representation of African Americans in the past has lead to negative stereotypes of African Americans in the present As an artifact from the past, the trunk has recourse to the present. This parallel between the past and present does not highlight the differences between now and then; rather, it conflates them Having heirlooms in the museum like the traveling trunk, allow for the museum t o Sunrise, Florida, I asked them why they thought Fredi and Ernest Brown decid ed on the Beverly: Y Dave: ut for someone walking down the stree Americans till you walk in Beverly: W now be Historical S ociety Dave: B ecause it is just assumed [that the bulk of the collection is donated from Me: I know th at when I talk to people about Family Heritage House M useum they go oh what kind of museum is that ? B [that it is an African American heritage museum] Beverly: B ut in some ways that is all as well because it is about all of our heritage
63 Dave: Y ou could encourage any child to think about their heritage or think about their family. That is nothing unique to African Americans, it s just, I th for the last, how ever many years you want to go back, there was no value given to only more recently and you still hear people complaining about why do we have to have a Black History M onth? Well, Americans at all it was just in relation to slavery and the civi pretty much it. You thin hat have come out in the last 40 years about the cont ributions of African Americans its mind boggling! s about giving credit and appreciation to all cultu res not This conversation among David, Beverly, and me exposes how the notion of family is automatically associated with local or national African Ame rican history and heritage. display African American culture for the benefit of all s the connection. th anniversary she said, unit that determines the emotional, spiritual, economic, and physical heal th of our nation. activities; to nurture a love for family unity, respect for ancestors, and a passion for serving others. Many of our programs are developed with these goals i because o tightly knit family unit. In the 1997 interview on Family Heritage House Museum, Ernest stre of the black experiences as blacks in The purpose of the artifacts, events, and
64 activities at the Family Heritage House Museum is not to balkanize hi story, but to allow people to value their own heritage thr ough learning about the African American family experience. A Resource Center on the Underground Railroad The Underground Railroad (1872) he chronicled l etters, interviews, and testimonies of slaves who had escaped along the The Underground Railroad artifact in the collection because of its value and rarity. The collection is recognized by Railroad Network to Freedom. In the state of Florida, Family Heritage House Museum is on e of five institutions (Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park [site], Fort Jefferson [site], Fort Mose [site], Southeastern Archaeological Center [facility]) that are recognized as contributing knowledge about The Underground Railroad. There is political po wer in this type of recognition because it validates heritage. cultural tool in defining and legitimating the identity, experience, and social/cultural
65 standing of a rang e of sub (2006:52). Since this legitimate identity is represented by the material artifacts, they are Center right below Anni there is a poster board on Harriet Tubman (see figure 5). Harriet Tubman is probably the most wel l known name associated with The Underground Railroad After escaping from slavery, she returned to the South thirty times to help m ore than seventy slaves escape to the north. This is one of many student projects that fill the room and the museum. As Fredi and I she referred to these posters as exhibits. Fredi: Well, some of the exhibits in the childr history fair, and they have donated them to the museum. Me: Do you prefer that approach to having stuff that people made, like I know someone made this book [a scrap book of Black Churches in Manatee County], or Fredi: Right, having community input Me: R ight, helping shape the museum. Fredi: R ight, that might be because I d e the money to do other wise, but I nt people to feel this is theirs too, and I think we have achieved that.
66 Figure 4: Student hi story project on Harriet Tubman Community input is reflected into Family Heritage House Museum in the f orm of its exhibits. Exhibits like the student history projects are made by the community for the community. Also, they are made by children for children Fredi explains people to f tedness is important for learning and for teaching. A connection between student and teacher was something There she writes, steadily changing from an inward, human experience to a superficial and very limited or limiting involvement. We have become alienated from direct inner contact between teacher and pupil, and we have In a letter she wrote to Phi Delta Kappan on March 15, 1989, Fredi quotes the teacher Even the very young grade school child is constantly taunted about preparation for a career. While intellectual development is valued, it should not be replace a feelings that are crucial if
67 one is to establish the emotional balance later in life. We fail him/her miserably development. Her e, take this that we offer. Even though it is not right for you Fredi is critiquing a disconnected approach to teaching. She is saying, I think, that if one te aches in a disconnected manner than children will learn in a disconnected manner. have time, s tudents will stop asking for help The museum aids to shrink this disconnect ancestors, a love for learning, and a passion In March 2011 I had the p leasure to sit in on a talk by bell h ooks at New College of Florida In the talk she s s book Happy to be Nappy (1999 ) which is also in the Family Heritage House Museum Throughout Happy to be Nappy hooks praises nappy hair; she calls it fragrant and as soft as flower petals. A year before Happy to be Nappy was published another book, Nappy Hair (1998) by Carolivia Herron, exploded in controversy. hooks explains that in Nappy Hair the main character, Brenda, gets made fun of because her hair is nappy but by the end of the book she learns to love her hair. A fter telling us about Nappy Hair bell hooks remarks : Hooks explains that for adults such as story is resources which allow them to learn, g row and feel proud about who they are at all ages. now you will need it in Reaching children at a level that makes sense to them is how the museum conn ects children to their heritage.
68 In February of 2010, I was filing responses written by students after their field trip to the museum ; the responses that were most interesting and just plain cute were from the elementary school kids. The students were g iven a prompt to write about their favorite thing they saw at the museum and what they learned. In one response, a student he Unde At the time I laughed. It was so innocent and sweet, I thought a s I slipped the response s into plastic protector sheets. However, I began to realize that more and more kids were saying the same thing. It is most likely that the teacher was encouraging this connection; I have no way of knowing, but r egardless Family Heritage House Museum was part of the process allowing children to make connections that adults would take for granted. Family Heritage House Museum works to inspire children to have respect for their ancestors, a passion for service, and a love for learning, by connecting them to their heritage at an age appropriate level. From Obscurity to Excellence: Celebrating Black Achievement in Sports At the museum entrance, there is a large black and white portrait of Ernest L. Brown Jr. (see figure 6). The presence of the photograph is striking, not just in its size, but also in its composition. His handsome features and charismatic grin are crystal c lear and evoke a sense of familiarity. Below the portrait there is an inscription which relates portrait. On May 22, 2010, Family Heritage House Museum celebrated its twen tieth anniversary with the exhibit Black Florida: A Photographic History (1513 2000). It was
69 artifact. Figure 5: Portrait of Ernest L. Brown Jr. Black Florida is a trave ling photographic exhibit which contained hundreds of images, docu ments, and photographs that tell about the existence of blacks in Florida since the colonial era till modern time It was assembled by Dr. Marvin Dunn a former professor of psychology at Fl orida International University All the museum events take place in the Carter G. Woodson Multipurpose room, and I had never seen it as crowded as it was on the evening of the Black Florida exhibit opening. Even after Kathie and I exhausted the storage clo back. Dunn started to lecture on the images. He encouraged questions while he talked. Slowly, questions turned into a forty five minute long discussion. Standing in the back of
70 the room, I re alized that I was in the midst of more than 80 people engaged in a productive discussion about what it means to be an African American in Florida. As the event wound down and people began to leave I was asked by a woman to take a photograph of her and Fre times that evening. Soon after, I began to notice similar pictures in event pamphlets, newspaper articles, photo albums, and in the museum. In one of these photos, Fredi Brown was dressed in a Negro Lea gues t holding one of his golf trophies. The photo was taken at the opening of a museum exhibit called From Obscurity to Excellence: Celebrating Black Achievement in Sports. This exhibit opened on May 3, 2002, and was dedicated to the life and work of Ernest L. Brown Jr. The exhibit included photographs, books, memorabilia and many artifacts the Browns had collected as well as the Hal McRae family collection. Hal Mc Rae (Harold Abraham McRae) is a former baseba ll player (1968 1987), and former manager of the Tampa Bay Rays (2001 from his career with the Kansas City Royals (1985). McRae is also the son in law of Annie Lucy Williams, the school teacher f began working on the exhibit before his death in 2001 at the age of 86, and it was dedicated in his honor. The purpose of the exhibit was to celebrate African American athletes who strove to break athletic bound aries in the face of discrimination and struggle and achievements of these athletes.
71 Since I was not able to view the exhibit, my information comes from the exhib informational pamphlet. There are eight characteristics that organize the pamphlet. For every characteristic there is a written description of its significance along with biographical blurbs about the athlete, their sport, their performance, their cau ses, and their outreach to their community. The eight characteristics are defined in the pamphlet as: Fortitude : Many athletes and owners pursued their sports with hard work, that time. Courage: These athletes have demonstrated dignity and control in the face of adversity. The impact of their actions is felt beyond playing fields, boxing rings, tennis courts, and race tracks they have become American heroes. Leadership: Gre at athletes have served as motivators, mentors and teachers Resilience : Some athletes faced an extra hurdle in their journey to excel in sports they were women in a world reserved almo st exclusively for men. We salute their efforts. Endurance: Endurance is the power to excel while experiencing fatigue, stress, or pain. Some athletes have demonstrated their superior physical abilities by dominating their sports over lengthy careers. I ngenuity: Many individuals have developed high level skills in multiple areas and excelled as well rounded athletes. Their diverse achievements have redefined and expanded our expectations of what it means to be a great athlete. Excellence: Some individ uals have repeatedly demonstrated a level of athletic prowess that represents the best that human beings have to offer. They have led the way in their athletic endeavors and inspired children from subsequent generations to strive to do their best. Looking Ahead: Some individuals represent the potential of future generations. By channeling their power, they have excelled on the track, the football field and the baseball diamond. All are committed to creating opportunities for young people through sch olarships.
72 These eight characteristics do not refer solely to sports or athletic ability. They are open to discussions of inequality, discrimination, gender, race, and community. In fact, below From Obscurity to Excellence exhibit. The Kansas City Call. During his time as a journalist Ernest wrote about the segregation of African Americans in major league sports. In one historical instance he was quoted for his response to New York game radio interview. The dedication refers to this insta nce. The exhibition [ From Obscurity to Excellence ] is dedicated to Ernest L. Brown Jr., co founder of Family Heritage House Museum. As a civil rights activist and an avid sportsman, Mr. Brown argued that racism barred many talented backs from achieving the ir potential. In 1938, almost ten years before [Jackie] Robinson signed with the Dodgers. Brown wrote the following in the Kansas City Call in response to racist remarks made by New York Yankee outfielder Jake Powell: ry over attempting to bring pressure so that Negro ballplayers will be admitted to the big leagues, this by any means typifies the type of baseball players that are now present in t he big leagues, it will be sometime before Negroes will have the doors of life accomplishments reflect the values highlighted in this exhibitio n: Fortitude, ingenuity, resilience, endurance, courage, excellence, and leadership. The eight characteristics (fortitude, ingenuity, resilience, endurance, courage, excellence, shments. The portrait evokes a historical incident that requires further elaboration. On January 29, 1938, Powell was asked by radio announcer Bob Elson what he he
73 cracked b lacks ov comment, Major League Baseball had often ignored any criticism of its policy to segregate players based on skin color. Pressure from black reporters and black leaders forced the Major Baseball League into action, and Powell was banned for ten games. In t he New York Times Chris Lamb writes, nor should they but hi s racist comment seventy years ago broke the conspiracy of silence tha black leaders dedication evokes this story of Powell and the impact black journalists, Ernest included, had on the outcome of this incident. Through the From Obscurity to Excellence exhibit t hese eight characteristics and all their manifestations the different athletes, their information, their stats, Jake are brought to the community. There are multiple definitions for community location or shared characteristics (religion, history, ethnicity, life experience, sport, or employment) the creation of community is bound up in the meanings associated with (Crooke 2007:31). She goes on to say that having a bunch of commonly shared characteristics is not essential to community formation. Rather, what is
74 necessary is the motivation to bring those (Crooke 2007:31). The From Obscurity to Excellence exhibit takes the eight characteristics and makes them a cohesive unit. The characteristics are manifested in the exhibit as symbols that are meaningful to the c ommunity while distinguishing those who are outside the cultural markers embedded in place, history, ethnicity, sport, employment, and life (2007: 30 ) I am not arguing that Family Heritage House Museum balkanizes history, nor am I arguing that non community members would have found the exhibit confusing or uninformative. Since the characteristics are manifested in multiple they can be understood as impo rtant regardless of ethnicity, gender, race, or community status. However, for the local community the characteristics foster a sense of belonging. The portrait as an artifact connects the values presented in the exhibit with hich they are reflected. From Obscurity to Excellence: Celebrating Black Achievement in Sports incorporates multiple narratives: black among a community, and racism. Herit age is not located in one thing or event. Rather, it is the different manifestations of the eight characteristics and the relationships among them that are heritage. Conclusion In this chapter I explore how the exhibition of heritage at Family Heritage H ouse Museum provides African American families, children, and the community with an
75 African American identity in the present. The traveling trunk is an heirloom and an counter s a stereotypical represe ntation of African Americans in the present. The Underground Railroad verified by the National Parks Service Underground Railroad Heritag e Trail wh ich enable the museum to use the collection to connect children to their heritage at an age appropriate level The portrait evokes characteristics in the past that inspire community goals in the present. The next chapter details how Family Herita ge House Museum uses race and racism to confront essentialist historical narratives as a way to confront a racial ideology imposed on African Americans by the dominate society.
76 Chapter 4 Material Resistance: Confronting a Racial Worldview At the end of the previous chapter, I explored how heirlooms and history become heritage in the Family Heritage House Museum. I explained that the exhibit From Obscurity to Excellence : Black Achievements in Sports contained multiple narratives th at connected African Americans to their heritage. Implicit in this connection are the ramifications of race and racism. Racism is a theme found throughout Family Heritage the mes of family, children, and community. stated. At the entrance of Family Heritage House Museum, next to the visitor sign in book, there is a message stenciled into the wall. T his message is a permanent part of the Americans have been challenged and how they have overcome historical racist practices in the United States. Jim Crow segregation and modern g h ettotization. But, the operative word here is vived, we have achieved and maintained a unique cultural heritage. The accomplishments of African Americans are only marginally acknowledged in of our many significant contri As long as racism remains, it is necessary for us to be reminded of its injustice,
77 The message states that African Americans have felt the injustice of race and its derivative practices, but that they are survivors of this injustice. Furthermore, it stresses that their struggles should not be forgotten or go unacknowledged because the ac complishments of African Americans have contributed to the prosperity of the United as it relates to the history of African Americans. In doing so it presents a positi on on race injustice remains it is necessary to remember that its degrading pra ctices were confronted in the past, and can be fought in the present. As a worldview racial ideology establishes paths of interpretation that contribute to a misrepresentation of the people, history, and the world. Ignorance of racial inequality should b e discussed as a product of this racial worldview. There is no biological or scientific reality to race. Rather, race is actually experienced through social practices. This makes it very difficult to present race and racism in a singular format because lik e culture, they are in motion. How then, is race and racism articulated at Family Heritage House Museums? The introductory message stresses three themes : 1) African Americans are survivors of racist practices. 2) The accomplishments of African Americans have been only marginally acknowledged, and 3) it is necessary to be reminded about the injustice of the past if one is to fight injustice in the present. This is the museums position on race and racism, and it is articulated through the museums artifacts, exhibitions, and events.
78 In this chapter, I explore how three artifacts a poster of Fredrick Douglas, an exhibit on inventions by African American, and t he exhibit Encounters, Gazes, and Stereotypes represent an African American identity that confronts dominate racial ideology. First, however, I present a background of race as a worldview. Then, I discuss the situational context of race which is contingent upon individual, local, and national factors. Challenging Racial Ideology In Race in North American: Origin and Evolution of a Worldview (2007) Audrey Smedley follows the historic development of race as an idea. Ac cording to Smedley, race is the fol k notion that people can be categorized into discrete groups and that these groups can be ranked against one another. Tied to these ideas was the belief that physical features where an outward manifestation of inward behavior, intellect, temperament, and m orality, and that all these qualities where inheritable. The most critical aspect of race, according to Smedley, was the belief that differences among races were fixed and immutable because they were created by nature or God, and as a result could never be transcended. Smedley traces how the concept of race was first nurtured during the conflict between the English and the Irish in the eighteenth century. The English waged violent war on the Irish denouncing them as savages. During this time, North America n colonists were encountering Native Americans, and transposing the savagery of the Irish onto Native Americans. It was in the context of these Native American encounters, that concrete
79 biological distinctions between races. Smedley explains how the idea of race was crystallized with the legal, religious, and scientific justification for slavery and then segregation. In the twentieth century, race became a science through scient ific methods, eugenics, and I.Q. tests. In the modern day, racial thinking persists as the primary framework for und programmed by the power of the racial worldview that we submit to the constraints of racial thinking even when it is not necessary. And we have developed and lived with so many myths about human difference, connected with the ideology of race, that they have What is so clearly evident from Sm edley analysis is that race evolved over the last several centuries, not from the push and pull momentum of individuals but from social groups. In Race in the 21 st Century: Ethnographic Approaches (2010) anthropologist J ohn Hartigan, Jr. highlights how the role of individualism in North American society obscures the reality of race in peoples lived experiences. In North American culture, individualism obscuring often conveyed through the philosophy that in a u American culture, it is often perceived as natural. Individualism shadows the social significance of race because the reality that group circumstances are shaped by inequality clashes with the idea we are all equal as individuals (2010:3).
80 hen are we 24 ) Race is more than skin color and violent race relations. Race is occurring all around us; i (2010:24). Understanding the difference between the concepts of race and culture allows individuals to realize how race, which is often obscured with culture, is preformed. This distinction sheds light on how racism can be confronted. Before I discuss how Family Heritage House Museum uses its resources to create a narrative that co unters dominate racial ideology, I provide three examples where racism has been challenged. Instead of providing three examples that deal solely with museums and their exhibitions I provide broader perspectives on how race is meaningful. I begin with the i children for the racist practices they will encounter in their life time. Then, I disc uss how a collaborative effort allowed African Americans to seize intellectual power and contro l their ancestral remains in the analysis of the African American Burial G round Finally, I analyze the controversy surrounding the excavation and exhibition of House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of A New Nation Running Through the Walls of Racial Thinking In an internet article from the blog Racilious titled Preparing My Kids To Be Able To Run Though Walls in her past attempts to maneuver the world of racially cast images and words hit the wall She compares
81 wall is known as t he notorious physical exhaustion that sets in around the twenty mile mark, always hitting those who are ill trained the harde st. As an Asian American, and have to confront a tremendous number of walls in their life time, and she see s it as her responsibility to make sure they are not ill prepared. Preparing my kids means a lot of role playing, frequent and relevant conversations addressing topics like racism, stereotypes and prejudices. It requires me to have the dirty but necessary job to share and explain certain racial slurs that might be thrown at them or s help alle viate the power of those words in order to prepare them for a world structured by race. Smedley writes that there is an inconsisten cy when scientific way, while its related and derivative terms [racism, racists, and racialism] are so infused with negative and judgmental elements that they cannot (Smedley 2007:20). A focus on race exposes structural inequalities and unequal relations to power. Race as an objective concept does not help explain why race matters for individuals. Rather, it is racism that provides more insight into h ow race matters. One capitalist relations over the last few hundred years, so that nothing like it existed in earlier ated by cultural change, which is central to how individuals interpret their social world. ace is meaningful because racist practices have affected her life and she knows that even if her children are prepared it will affect them ; she is p reparing them for racism they are bound to encounter.
82 Racism is the belief that culture and biology are inherently linked, and that these inheritable racial identities can be ranked hierarchically However, different today than it did in th e past, and it is necessary to take into account new forms of racism: symbolic racism, silent racism, modern racism, subtle racism and new racism (Hartigan 2010:9) ful l before color (Sanjek 2001). Color blind racism is a form of racial thinking that guides racial practices which indirectly evoke racial differences rather than blatant discriminatory remarks and acts, or what is typically thought of as racism. In attempting to be color blind the reality that race affects peo racist remarks or actions, but they are often not perceived as such. Furthermore, it is often these new forms of racism (color blind racism included) that create conflicts when r acist beliefs and ideals are expressed in the public sphere. The conflict that arose around the African American Burial Ground was in response to these new forms of racial thinking. Power, Control, and Vindicationism at the African American Burial Ground summer of 1991. Historical maps indicated that an eighteenth century burial ground was located where the United States General Service Administration (GSA) was planning on building a t hirty four story office building. After the fifty burials that archeologists expected to find turned into over four hundred burials, influential African Americans along with the African American community of New York joined together in a collaborative effo rt to stop the excavation, alter business plans, and change the direction
83 and leadership of the project; in what, Cheryl J. La Roche and Michael Blakey describe In 1993 the site was renamed due to the persistence of the descendant community and collaborators as t he African American Burial Gro und. Spanning from largest and earliest recorded burial site fo r African Americans. Cheryl J. La Roche and Michael Blakey discuss the struggle of the African American descent community of New York for their right to interpret the remains of t heir ancestors. La Roche and Blakey discuss numerous factors that contributed to the controversy. In this African presence in colonial New York. These were two events that i nfluenced the descent community to seize control of the project and challenge race through vindicationist methods. The New York Metropolitan Forensic Anthropology Team (MFAT) was made up of the physical anthropologists who were working on the burial gro und in conjunction with the cultural resource management firm, Historical Conservation and Interpretation Inc (HIC), which uncovered the site. MFAT was primarily concerned with morphometric truct an identity that is culture less, history They produce interpretations that support black inferiority, social and biological difference, and fixed stereotypical images of African America ns. The local community understood that a continuation of these methods would result in a stereotypical
84 representation of the burial ground population. The parallel between the racial lives of the African American community and the misrepresentation of the ir ancestors was apparent; (La Roche and Blakey 1997:89) The African American descent population saw the archaeological records as an extension o f their experience. other influential African Americans to gain control over project, and represent their ancestors from an African American perspective. In July 1992, the remains were sent to Cobb Bio logical Anthropology Laboratory at Howard University in Washington D.C. where a team lead by Michael Blakey restructured the research questions away from morphology. The new research design was directed towards understanding the origins of the population, their physical quality of life, their modes of resistance, and whether or not the biological and cultural transition from an African to an African American identity could be revealed from the remains. This research design framed the culture and the biology of the African population within a specific sociocultural and historical context. This framework illustrated the variation of the population instead of creating static hierarchical categories. Along with the use of racing methods, the original research d esign omitted the African presence in colonial New York. The original research design consisted of twelve ial African American history. This erasure of the colonial African presence and their contributions to the building of New York City means that northern slavery and racism
85 was by process omitted and denied. This erasure is often not recognized as racial, b ut it is one of the many ways that African Americans were denied power, and one of the reasons they decided it was necessary to seize intellectual power and control of the project. Roche and Blakey 1997:90). Vindicationism, as La Roche and Blakey define it, is a corrective for the Eurocentric bias and misrepresentation of the culture, biology, and history of African Americans. Vindicationism was a common theme in writing of 1 9 th and 20 th century African American intellectuals including Carter G. Woodson, W.E.B DuBois, David Walker, St. Clair Drake, and George W. Williams. These scholars have jou rnals, and programs that respond to the distortion of global history. by particular social ex perspective takes int o consideration how individuals are positioned by racial ideology. categori This would present racism in a light that explains inequality along the color line. Thus, it would not only provide a counter narrative, but would challenge essentialist notions o f racial identity. notions would be a serious challenge to racism h ooks explains that a postmodern critique of essentialism opens up new av enues for talking about African Americ an
86 experience and identity. A postmodern perspective challenges a one dimensional colonial identity with a framework that allows for multiple black identities and varied black experiences. However, many African Americans are unwilling to critique essential ism because there is a fear that the specific history and experience of African Americans and the unique culture and sensibilities that arise from this experience will be lost. The historical and curr ent racial inequalities African Americans face are e vident methods and the omission of Northern slavery and racism illustrate that racism ties the African American community of New York to the remains found in the African American Burial Ground. Race and r acism affects the lives of the African American community members as it affected the lives of their ancestors bio intellectual power the descent community of New York illustrates the sociocultural reality of race and racism in their lives. In the next section, I draw on the controversial exhibit Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation The exhibit resists essentialist identities of African Americans by exposing overlooked historical contradictions. Contradictions and Controversial at the Presidents House in Philadelphia The most publicized story to emerge from the controversy leading up to The exhibit, which opened in December 15,
87 Judge. The story highlights a George Washington many Americans were not familiar with: George Washington the slaveholder. Along with the story of Oney Judge the exhibit tells the story of Washingto Christopher Sheels, Richmond, Giles, Moll, and Joe; a stone plaque commemorates them. The physical layout of the exhibit is described: Consisting of an arrangement of a original footprint, the open air memorial tells the story of its inhabitants and their era. Where windows would originally have looked out onto the historic intersection of Sixth and Market streets, glass pa nes have been incised by artists to identify important moments in the turbulent 1790s: the French Revolution, the funeral of Benjamin Franklin, the signing of the 1798 Alien and Sedition Act meant to suppress opposition press, and the outbreak of yellow fe ver. The exhibit also focuses on slavery, history, presidents, and the 2008 2009 archaeological excavation that was conducted at the site. house once stood, a block away fr om Independence Hall where the L iberty B ell once hung. This exhibit explores two ideas uncomfortable reality. The space wher e some of the enslaved stable hands slept is a mere five feet from the entrance of The Liberty Bell Center. You can no longer see the room, but you can imagine the voices of those whose daily lives stood in the stark contrast to those of the founders who d all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. In the New York Times Edward Rothstein critiques the outcome of exhibit. He writes that important desire to reveal what was once hidden ends up pulling down
88 nearly everything else, leaving a landscape as starkly unreal as the one in which Washington could never tell a lie. It is not really a reinterpretation of history; it overturns (Rothstein 2010 ) Rothstein misses a crucial point: what is important is how people choose to identify with race not whether the version of history they present is biased Audrey status races faced and continue to face a dilemma: how to construct a decide how they will address the racial world in which they are a part of today. Identit y is multi faceted concept some aspects of it are intensely personal and emotional, tied deeply within a person while other parts are public, fluid, and open for discussion. Racial identity is, I think, informed an intersection of history and memory; Blight 2006:24). However, if they are dislocated from each other it becomes difficult to grasp the eagerness in the words spoken by Fred Shuttlesworth, a Baptist minister and leader of the Southern Ch as it ought 33). This form of truth telling is found in the methodology of the African American Burial Ground, and the panel representing the contradictions of history; all three examples inform a racial identity that confronts an racial ideology imposed by dominate society.
89 Family Heritage House Museum informs a racial identity that confronts a racial ideology imposed by dominant society by focusing on three themes which were mentioned in the beginning of this chapter and are fo und in the introductory message: 1) African Americans are survivors of racist practices. 2) The accomplishments of African Americans have been only marginally acknowledged, and 3) it is necessary to be reminded about the injustice of the past if one is to fight injustice in the present. In the next section, I analyze three artifacts a poster of Fredrick Douglass, and exhibition on African American inventions, and exhibit titled Encounters, Gazes, and Stereotypes that illustrate how the museum informs a ra cial identity. The poster of Fredrick Douglass and his double face looking backward and looking forward symbolize that African Americans fought for their freedom. The exhibit on African American inventions celebrates the accomplishments of African American s while illustrating the fact that there might be much more African American inventions we may never know about because of racist practices. Finally, Encounters, Gazes, and Stereotypes is an exhibit that uses racist images of African Americans to teach ind ividuals about the injustice of the past in order to evaluate themselves and how they view and treat all people in the present. In December of 2010, I created an audio/visual project on Family Heritage House with Fredi Br own. I employed the technique of photo elicitation ( Harper 1987 ) Photo
90 elicitation is a method of gathering data that incorporates photography, film, or video into interviews. During an interview, researchers will ask their subjects to discuss the visual media they have been shown. Often, researchers will take film or photographs with the goal of using them to elicit information. In preparation for my interview with Fredi Brown, I took pictures of artifacts around the museum. One of these artifacts was a p oster of Fredrick Douglas (see figure 4). In the poster he has two heads fused yet distinct. Each head is looking off into the distance. One is looking left and the other is looking right. This poster intrigued me, and I took a picture of it hoping that Fr edi Brown would be able to enlighten me on why she and Ernest chose to display that artifact over another, and what significance it had beyond the boundaries of exhibition. I began by asking her where it came from. Figure 6: Poster of Fredrick Douglass in Etta Moten and Claude A. Barnett Gallery the trailer? Me: N o? Fredi: N o, but the whole theme there of fighting for freedom includes blacks who fought in different wars, and there is one great book there on
91 WWI when the black soldiers were turned over to the French government and many of them won the Croix De Guerre and it is, as far as I can tell, an untold story about our participant in WW1 Me: Y eah F r edi: B ut you know people donated things to us and that poster was probably Me: Y Fredi: W ith the double face there Me: Y Fredi: looking forward and backward Me: yeah, oh I guess so. donated by someone, but after so many years it is no longer easy to remember. However, the origin of the poster is not as important as the context in which it is placed. Fredi Freedom (1818 Timeline exhibit. The Timeline: A Walk Through History pamphlet provides some insight into why a poster of Fredrick Douglass is exhibited alongside a book about African American soldiers and their participation in W WI. First the pamphlet describes Douglass: During the seven years he spent with the Hugh Family as a slave. Fredrick Douglass devised some clever means to learn how to read and write. The display tells the story of how the future abolitionist, newspaper ed itor, and orator overcame the obstacles of slavery to become literate. The focus of the excerpt is that Douglass fought to overcome slavery. He struggled to learn to read and write, and in freedom Douglass would dedicate his life to fighting for abolition Faith Davis Ruffins writes that Douglass embodied the notions of suffering, heroism, eventual deliverance, achievement, self reliance, and racial pride. It is these
92 The pamphlet des cribes the book Fredi mentioned, C.G. History of the American Negro in the Great War, along with other artifacts that are centered on African American soldiers: (Note: the book History of the American Negro in the Great War by C.G. Sapp, the pic ture of Private Willie Mitchell and his letter, and other memorabilia from recognition of t he contributions of African American soldiers in the various wars.) The excerpt explains that the artifacts centered on African American soldiers have various contributions of African Americans soldiers in American wars. The story pr History of the American Negro in the Great War along with the other artifacts evoke the notions of suffering, heroism, eventual deliverance, achievement, self reliance, and racial pride. The life and work of Fredrick Douglass and the contributions of African American soldiers are not connected by a time period, but a 515). These notions are also implicit in the Janus faced symbolism of Fredrick Douglass. to the slave is the 4 th th of July? I answer: a day that revels to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the
93 to create a voice for change. Douglas embodies this struggle for freedom and serves as a symbol for African Americans to look forward and backward. An example that I considered to embody the spirit of Fredrick Douglass in this sense of never letting the past stay in the past was pres ented to me d uring an interview in law, Beverly and David Nash. During our conversation, Beverly gave me a newspaper clipping from when her mother, Fredi Brown, had written a letter to the editor in response to an a rticle about the Carnegie reader growing up in Braden ton, I had to borrow books from the nurses at the Bradenton General Hospital or have my parents purchase magazines and paperbacks at the drugstore. Nothing FREE for us! Eloquent and polite, the letter reminded to editor, the writer, and everyone who wou ld read the newspaper of a simple fact. Between 1876 1965 Jim Crow segregation forbid African Americans o f equal access to institutions; the Carnegie Libraries had not been open to everyone. In the card, Fredi wrote that the newspaper reporter had called her up Such disregard and erasure of the past has influenced many or a national dialogue, these efforts construct an African American identity that confronts dominate racial narratives of history. In an interview, Ernest Brown explains that Family Heritage House Museum is a place to nurture African American s in their own culture and to help them realize that they are somebody in this total strain of our humanity. As a resource Family Heritage
94 House Museum teaches other populations about African American history and culture because of the absences of Afric an Americans in the historical memory. Ernest explains that understanding of the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans is discussed in the next section. African A merican Inventions When I began my fieldwork in January 2010, I helped arrange S tyrofoam replicas of African American inventions onto the table in the back of the museum where they are currently displayed The pamphlet that goes along with the display is Inventions by Black 1971 1900s number, and the dates they were received. A bove t he title there is a quote which reads: All the Styrofo am inventions were carved by a T am pa resident named Lillie chool Liverpool has been using Styrofoam as her artistic medium for 15 years. She was first inspired to use Styrofoam while working with her students on an art project making cars and trains. In the Tampa Tribune Liverpool explains that she found a block of Styrofoam, borro wed a box cutter for the Styrofoam ever since. In the article Liverpool explained that g so she had to be creative. She said, mething away, I might go get it because I might see something I could make out of it During my fieldwork, these
95 inventions and the documentation presented in the pamphlet were used to legitimate the contributions of African Americans. During an intervie w, Kathie Marsh, the Museum Specialist, told me she had never liked history growing up because it always left out of African American perspectives. This is why, when I asked her what her favorite artifact in the museum was, she told me she liked all of the m because they all contributed to the knowledge that had been withheld from African Americans in the past. During our interview, I asked her if she thought there is any way to reverse what had been lost or withheld from African Americans, and she brought u p the inventions exhibit in a way I had not previously considered. ere is going to be that time when forward and teach those that come That is why I like to encourage people to come [to the museum] to bring people in because of the [response]: know that know it till you come and see. As far because well, a few things, some people are not going to admit that it ever happened. Things that we say happened they may say that we, not we as in me and Mrs Fredi, but that it was imagined inventions back there and you go on the interne but certain things like when you say Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin what purpose would he have to invent it? It was a black man that really invented it, but he took the credit because when you think about all the inventions we have [in the museum], they were after [African Americans] were allowed to have patents, so prior to t hat if a slave or someone working for someone invented something the owner of the company, or the owner of the slave, or the owner of whoever they would take credit for whatever was invented S more were taken credit of Kathie pointed out that it is not realistic to try to reverse what has been lost, and one reason for this is that some people are not going to believe that it is true. Here she is referring to the effects of racism; wh y would a white man invite the cotton gin? What
96 point would he have for it? These are interesting questions that indicate the effect racist practices have in omitting the accomplishments and contributions of African American e cotton gin indicates that it is impossible to document the existence of contributions by slaves whose creative skills made their lives less a burden and were catalysts to Ame ( Havelin 1986: 71) Eli Whitney received a paten t for the cotton gin on March 14, 1794 It was not until 1836 that the first freed African American Henry Blair receive d a patent for his invention of the seed planter. Prior to the Civil War, it was illegal for slaves to patent inventions. A patent was considered a contract between the government and the inventor, but since slaves were not considered citizens of the United States, they could not make a contract with the government nor could they sign over their inventions to their master. Fre di and I also talked about the i nventions; she brought them up in light of Ernest and his life philosophy. During an interview, Fredi and I were talking about an article that Ernest w rote for a newspaper titled, Caste Status when he was a Assistant Manager of Employment and Placement with Michigan Consolidated Gas Company In the article, Ernest writes about why young adults should go to colleg e. He is writing for the parents of prospective college students and he explains that students should go to college to learn and to enrich their understanding of life. He says that make of your child, during his formative years, the kind of person who appreciates learning for the joy of learning and who can, the majority of the time, differentiate between those things which are important to life and
97 those which are unimportant to living I asked Fredi about this article, and whether the She replied: Fredi: Yes yes he believed in personal growth and development, and another source of information that I think that we have here is about the inventions by invented by blacks or inventions th at were improved [by blacks] Me: Yeah, because I remember one of the first days I came and I helped organize r e Fred i: A lot of people know about the traffic lights Me: O r peanut butter Fredi: L ike the improvement of the light bulb for example. We think of inventors like Alexander Graham Bell, but some of h is inventions were improved on b y black. And we have the patent numbers and documentation that these things actually are true. Not just things we made up ourselves. about the invention exhibit as another source of information that is accessible through the museum. I n an interview on the Family Heritage House Museum Ernest comments, difficult for individuals or groups of in dividuals to gain respect if no body knows the contributions these people have made to the total fabric o f our society In many ways the invention exhibit is a source of information that can contribute to personal growth and development because they legitimate contributions made by African Americans. Although, some inventions like the cotton gin are left pur ely speculative, the patents and documentation of the inventions verify that African Americans are the inventors of many objects that are a part of everyday life. Encounter s Gazes, and Stereotypes lavery in American History: An U ncomfortable n fronting the contradiction between the American ideal and the
98 in the construction of the nation undercuts the romant icized notion of America as a land of the free. It is because of this contradiction that slavery and race continue to be difficult topics for public discussion. One of the reasons for this, Horton explains, reaches into the public education system. While n ew scholarship is being produced and circulated among colleges and universities, this work never reaches high school students because it does not reach their teachers. Thus, many people do not have a good understanding of the history of slavery which is im perative if a productive dialogue on race and slavery is the goal. Americans feel most connected to history when visiting historic places. Apparently, Americans believe th ey are more likely to discover real or true history at a museum and providing its visitors with history that is not one dimensional in scope, but highlights the contradiction s and complex issues of race in our society. In this section, I look at how the Encounters, Gazes, and Stereotypes presented stereotypical images of African Americans popular during the early 20 th century, and uses th em to discuss issues of race, racism and teach individuals about prejudice and stereotypes. Fredi showed me a pamphlet that had been saved from an e vent five years prior called Encounters, Gazes, and Stereotypes The pamphlet tied the historical and s ocial implications of the exhibit and the images on display with the social implication of stereotypes and prejudice in an elegant introspective manner. The pamphlet framed the
99 Currier & Ives watercolor paintings and other lithographic prints on display i n their historic time frame However, the pamphlet is not merely descriptive, but is an attempt to foster a critical inspection of the images. The pamphlet reads: [The exhibit] s hows stereotypes of African American in advertising and the media from the l ate 1800s to the present. These objects and images create a somewhat disturbing visual tapestry of American history and tell a unique story of our humanity. We hope you will make new connections and draw your own conclusions from them. The excerpt illust rates that the images provide an insight into how African Americans were perceived in the past. Obviously, these images should be viewed and understood within their time frame. However, the racist ideology that contributed to these images continues to affe ct African Americans today. In Marlon Rigg s haunting documentary Ethnic Notions (1987) he focuses on the derogatory images of African Americans that were prevalent in the early 20 th century. He exposes the birth of the mammy, the coon, the pickaninny, and the u ncle and traces how the political and social manipulation of these images continues to influence popular conceptions of blacks today. Riggs reveals these images for the effect they had on African Americans. The exhibit is structured so that visitors c ome to their own conclusions about the images and through this process they learn how stereotypes and prejudice have powerful effects on people. The Encounters, Gazes, and Stereotypes pamphlet is not on display to the museum public, but a more condensed i nformational pamphlet on three well known black stereotypes: Aunt Jemima, Rastus (the Cream of Wheat chef), and Uncle Ben, can be is a poem written by Sylvia Dunnavant; it is titled Aunt Jemima : Does anyone ever know what happened
100 to Aunt Jemima on the pancake box? Rumor has it that she just up and disappeared. Well, I know the real story You see I ran into Aunt Jemima one day. She told me she got tired of wearing that rag Wrapped around her head. And she got tired of making pancakes and waffles for down at the table. She told me that Lincoln emancipated the slaves But she freed her own damn self. You know The last time I s aw Aunt Jemima She was driving a Mercedes Benz With a bumper sticker on the back that said Thank God Almighty -This poem is a powerful statement on the cha when Quaker Oats took away her scarf in order to make her more appealing to the African American consumer market. However, this poem is responding to more than just her change in attire it is attacking the historical and cultural perception of the mammy stereotype. Marilyn Kern Foxworth quotes Lauren Adama DeLeon whose sardonic voice demonstrates the ongoing anger and frustration that African Americans associate with this negativ When Aunt Jemima wore th at head rag as she flipped those p about two years ago Quaker Oats gave Auntie a makeover. They advised Girlfriend against the head rag, gave her a soft do, and did Foxworthy 1994:99). Uncle Ben and Rastus like Aunt Jemima are symbols that have shaped not only how others see African Americans but how African Americans have come to see themselves.
101 Whi le I was not able to see the Encounters, Gazes, and Stereotypes exhibit, the pamphlet frames these issues in such as way as to do justice to the history and impact these image s have had on African Americans; while also contributing to a discussion of stereotypes and prejudice. The pamphlet defined the word the treatment of a stereotyped individual, the act of stereotyping, reasons for stereotyping: amiliar that causes people to stereotype others whose customs or cultural traditions are different from their own Fredi and I talked about this exhibit after she showed me a plaque Family Heritage House Museum was awarded for the exhibit. I explained that I was intrigued by the manner in which the pamphlet discussed the images and defined words like memorabilia and st ereotypes. Me: The [ Encounters, Gazes, and Stereotypes pamphlet] was really educational in that you talk about stereotypes, you define them and memorabilia, so in learning about history you were also educating people because stereotypes and prejudice stil was able to learn about the past and learn how to deal with the present. Is that what you were going for? Fredi: Yes, exactly. We wanted it to be an experience where you t ook a look at yourself and evaluate your response to different things, people, and experiences. Me: I feel like that is really great because it s hard to teach those things because sometimes you get into talking about race and race issues and those things are hard to talk about in public and sometimes even private, so you need another Fredi: Oh yes, absolutely d those things hard to talk about, and hard to relate to. Fredi explains that she wanted the exhibit to be a n experience where individual s reflect on themselves and their responses to different people. This is part of the reason why the pamphlet included a section where museum goers were encouraged to think of a time
102 when they had be en stereotyped ; t o write it down or to share it with someone : a friend, a family member or even someone at the museum. This is a good example of how the museum works with histo ry. They have created a space where people can look back on these images and learn from them. They are important to African Americans because they have shaped negative representations of African Americans, and in order to understand why these stereotypes s till exist and possible ways to fight them in the present it is necessary to know how they were used in the past. Conclusion In this chapter, I explore how three artifacts a poster of Fredrick Douglass, an exhibit that celebrates African American inventions, and the exhibit Encounters, Gazes, and Stereotypes in order to illustrate how Family Heritage House Museum informs a racial identity that confronts a racial ideology imposed by dominant society. I link the ethnographic details with three examp les that illustrate different ways this racial ideology her children for racism by teaching them what racism feels like. I discuss the vindicationist methodology adapted by the African American Burial Ground in order to rework the effects of racing methods and the omission of Northern slavery in the project design. Finally, I discuss how the text panel from the recent exhibit House: Freedom and Slavery in t he Making of a New Nation exposes an overlooked historical contradiction of slavery and liberty.
103 Chapter 5 Conclusion I never realized the museum had a logo until I came across a video re cording of ceremony in 1999. In a speech Fredi how we came to start this collection, but what the logo tha t we cho se means for Family Fredi pulls up a drawing of the logo it Fredi describes the significance of the flower: I approached a local artist that I knew to have her design such a logo. After several attempts to capture the ladder concept she became frustrated. It was then that I remem bered a book about the meanings of certain Negro Spirituals that was written by a renown theological, a native of Daytona Beach Florida, the eminent Howard Thurman. that that flower with its ladder like leaves reaching through a bridge to take you from where you are to where you want to be might solve the problem, and this is stairs that take you were you want to go. This is the result, so whether one needs to bridge the generation, the cultures, or any other lack of understand if one flowering into what one wants to be Fredi and Ernest made no decisions pertaining to the museum frivolously; thoughtful consideration is parceled in every facet of the museum its layout, its artifacts, its name, its mission, and its exhibitio flower is so beautiful, her words are so carefully chosen, that as she speaks about the logo she is also speaking about the museum. The logo symbolizes what Fredi and Ernest
104 hoped the museum wo uld emulate a resource that functions to bridge differences, in the spirit of harmonious understanding, in order to realize that we are all human. In this conclusion, I review the main argument and the ethnographic examples presented in this thesis in orde Ladder Flower logo. These sentiments are not limited to the mission of the Family Heritage House Museum, but epitomize the development of a museum that will recognize, on a national level, the strugg le of African Americans. Family Heritage House Museum is a resource that strengthens African American families, inspires African American children, and provides out reach to the local African American community of Manatee and Sarasota County. The prima ry way Family Heritage House Museum is able to act as a resource is through the exhibition of artifacts, which turn the intangible repertoire of embodied knowledge into a tangible representation. Family Heritage House gallery. I contextualize a jar of soil from the ground breaking ceremony in 1999 within the Harmie Davis Baker Research Room. I discuss the significa nce of white dolls in the legend Roberto Clemente in the Carter G. Woodson Purpose Room, and I end the chapter by situating two African American busts and a letter in the Etta Moten and Claude A. Barnett gallery. As a resource, Family Heritage House Museum connects African American families, children and the community to an African American identity through heritage
105 because it is a mode of production in the past that has reco urse to the present (Kirshenblatt that is both a family heirloom and an artifact in a museum. A collecti enables the museum to use the collection as a means of engaging students at an age appropriate level, and finally I discuss how a portrait of Ernest L. Brown Jr illustrates how community characteristics are inspired through history. Family Heritage House Museum informs a racial identity based on three themes found in the museum: 1) African Americans are survivors of racist practices. 2) The accomplishments of African Americans have been marginally acknowledged in society and 3) As long as injustice remains it is necessary to understand how it was confronted in the past in order to fight it in the present. unters, Gazes, 19 th century in order to teach people about injustice in the present. Throughout this thesis I argue that Family Heritage House Museum is a resource that connects African American families, children, and the local community to their heritage. It offers a way to inform an African American identity that confronts a dominate racial ideology. Through exhibition, heritage, and race Family Heritage House Mus eum
106 Knowledge about an African American past was what Fredi and Ernest believed would a llow all people to understand that African American history is American history. That African Americans are not marginal to the American historical narrative, but a central part of history. Such understanding would help to bridge differences, cultures, and generations in order for African Americans to realize their potential. Family Heritage House Museum functions at a community level by providing a local African American identity through the display of information on local history, families, individuals, a nd through networking with local organizations, schools, and programs. Family Heritage House Museum is one of hundreds of African American ethnic museums around the country whose goals are community centered. It is these African American community museums that have created a foundation for the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). NMAAHC is dealing with the challenges of presenting a national African American identity and constructing a national dialogue on race. While its goals are different than Family Heritage House Museums, its purpose is not. When I asked Fredi Brown what she thought about the National Museum of The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is expected to be completed in 2015, and it will find its home on the National Mall in Washington D.C. This new addition to the Smithsonian Institution will be located under the shadow of the
107 Washington Monument, and it will b e the first national museum that celebrates the historic struggle of African Americans. Since the museum is still in its planning and construction phase there is no mission statement yet, but the official website does provide a vision for the museum. T he vision rests on four pillars: 1) exploration of African American history and culture through interactive exhibitions that maintain the lived reality of the people who experienced the history. 2) To demonstrate that African American history is American hist ory, where the museum encapsulates what it means to be an American. 3) A focus on the African Diaspora and pan Africanisms. 4) Finally, collaboration: national museum that reaches beyond Washington to engage new audiences and to collabo rate with the myriad of museums and educational institutions that have explored and preserved this important history well before the museum was created John W. Franklin, whom I mentioned in Chapter Two, visited Family Heritage House Museum to provide som e literature on NMAAHC and took some literature on the Family Heritage House Museum in an effort to build a partnership. In anticipation of NMAAHC there has been much discussion about its placement, its collection, and its purpose. National Public Radio programs All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation have contributed to the discussion of this future museum. Lonnie Bunch, the executive director and museum curator of NMAAHC, has appeared on All Things Considered multiple times to talk about the pro cess of collecting for the museum and to give a summary of its progress. At one point, Bunch was asked by host Guy Raz about funding for the museum. Since the govern ment only provides half of the 800 million necessary to build the
108 museum, Raz was curious whether Bunch was at all worried about raising the money. Texas, he went to get his shoes shined. The man shinning his shoes was an old black man who half way through his shin ing look Washington whose been working on the new museum. Bunch says yes, that he is. The anything, but goes back to shi finished Bunch reaches into his pock et and hands the man six dollars in cash. He [the shoe shiner] says keep the money for the museum. Now, I got to be honest. He needs the money. So I push it back to him. He says to me, keep this money because if you do this museum right, my grandchildren will finally understand what I did to li All Things Considered ) want younger generations to forget. Bunch explains that the goal of NMAAHC is to help not only African Americans, but all Americans, present and future, remember. The vision set out for the museum is hopeful, Bunch writes that the National Museum of Africa n American History and Culture will be whether one n eeds to bridge the generation, the she cannot fail to reach the goal: the flowering into what one wants to be.
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