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 V.13 No.8 | February 19 - 25, 2004 

Feature

The Shame of History

African Americans: From Freedom to Slavery to Freedom

Vivid images of intolerance and cruelty toward humankind are revealed in a new exhibit that reflects just one of humanity's many vices. “By the age of two a child has been taught how to hate and how to discriminate,” said Werner Gellert, president of the New Mexico Holocaust and Intolerance Museum and Study Center, as he and his fellow employees set up a new exhibit titled African Americans: From Freedom to Slavery to Freedom.

The center recently opened the exhibit in honor of Black History Month. Gellert said that he had wanted to put up an exhibit on African American slaves and finally got the opportunity when a man named Gerald Watson from Latif Communication in Chicago told him he would help him. Watson gave him some old archives, and the museum employees set them up in three different categories: Ancient Africa, The African Slave Trade and Emancipation.

Some of the pictures show images of slaves bound and chained together by the neck. One picture shows a muzzle-type device that the slaves were forced to wear. Other pictures deal with the torture of slaves. One man's back was exposed to reveal scars from the several whippings he received.

Gellert, a Holocaust survivor, explained that the purpose of this exhibit was “to understand and learn about other cultures, other groups and to diminish hate and intolerance.” He said that exhibits such as these are also intended to teach history to young people about the intolerance and inhumanity of our society. “This exhibit will help people get a better understanding of the world that history books don't give.”

Other works in the exhibit show pictures of money that was exchanged to buy slaves. The money has pictures of slaves working in the fields as the slave owner supervises them. Announcements for slave auctions and classified ads are also on exhibit. One ad read “6 Negroes for sale.”

Gellert said by looking at these pictures and archives, one can't deny that this did not happen and that cruelty towards humans does not exist. “Some people are very blind because they don't wish to know,” he added. The museum plans to have more exhibits that focus on historical acts of intolerance to continue to bring awareness about these issues to the Albuquerque community.

African Americans: From Freedom to Slavery to Freedom is currently on display at the New Mexico Holocaust and Intolerance Museum and Study Center, located at 415 Central NW. 247-0606.

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