African American Museums

Slave Haven: Underground Railroad Museum

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A Diamond in the Rough!

Putting it mildly but true in so many ways nestled  in the suburbs about a mile from the heart of Memphis, and closer to two miles away from the famous Beale Street.  What this precious place lacks in aesthetics it more then makes up for in charm and authenticity.  This historical gem eloquently and visually displays the history of slavery from Africa to Ohio with emphasis on Memphis’ role in it.  This three hour visual tour is riddled with visual displays, that is not left to the viewers personal interpretation, but a very well informed historian guides you through every detail from the pictures to the furnishings, and not only that but provides encouragement as you don’t only hear our story of slavery, but you also hear a story of a resilient and determined people willing to do whatever it takes to be free.  Whether that is physically or mentally and often both.

Who should visit?

All great and small whether you’re black, white, hispanic, or other, knowing the history of slavery is liberating for all, but most importantly knowing how we overcame it.  While the Burkle house doesn’t have the beauty of the renovated Lorraine Hotel, it definitely has the authenticity and the personal touch that doesn’t just engage you for the day, but leaves a lasting impression and a hunger for learning history.  This Underground Railroad shows you what a people endured to be free and takes you visually through the experience in a way that I have never experienced as this is an actual house that was used.  While it shares of our history it also shares of the history of a family who came here from Germany.  Having witnessed the ugliness of racial discrimination there they came here and had the courage to do something about the atrocious treatment of African Americans; risking his own life and the lives of his family he secretly took part in an act of compassion that has set captives free.

By far this is hand’s down the BEST museum I have been to so far concerning the history of the transatlantic slave trade and the underground railroad.   While many boast elaborate and beautiful displays, interactive self guided multimedia tools, its nothing like having someone share the oral history with you personalizing every artifact.  It is a must see in the city of the dead, which is the meaning of Memphis.  It is my most recommended location and would be well worth visiting for schools, ministries, individuals, and families.  It may not be fun for all ages, but it will be encouraging for all ages.  Learning the trials, tragedy, triumph, and perseverance of any people is liberating for all people.

If you would like to visit Slave Haven here is the official website.

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Medgar Evers Museum

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I always enjoy learning about history and especially my history.  Museums are popping up all over to share amazing facts about our past and I must admit I prefer the Tour Guide assisted ones the most.  There is nothing quite like a well prepared curator to transport you back in time and recreate the treasures of history that is lost from the pages of textbooks.

Located in Jackson, MS it is truly something different about standing in the space that this man who gave his life for fighting for the freedoms I now enjoy that renders you speechless.  In his own words he lived with the fear of his inevitable demise his stand for freedom would take.  He left behind three young children and a young wife who would have to continue on in the fear of being targeted.  Indeed as scripture says, you must first bind the strong man if one is to take a house. (Matt. 12:29)  His death was a tremendous blow to the cause and delayed justice of his murderer was a slap in the face.  Mississippi is one of the most ruthless places for the atrocities of those of us of color in the land. For that cause it’s fitting that it would house within its borders so many museums that preserve that fact. Of course not to its complement though unfortunately many people would consider it’s distasteful treatment of its own citizens to be otherwise, nevertheless I am thankful the accurate history is made available for those of us desiring to discover it.

The window that has preserved the bullet hole still visible and the furniture and walls where a bullet ricochet through still visible to reveal the horror a family had to endure for refusing to apologize for their existence and demanding equal treatment for a system that is receiving equal pay through taxes and patronage from his hard earned money.

His daughters room, Reena, now holds the wall with his life’s story as a beautiful collage and honorable tribute. When decent and humble people can’t raise their family in peace it is a tragedy.  The struggle had never been about being treated better or receiving something for nothing, but being treated equal. Being treated as you want others to treat you.  Such a simple biblical principle that all people should be able to have access too and be willing to live by.

 

 

Me with Minnie Watson our Tour Guide

I am often amazed at how peaceably those who are blessed to be historical orators are at sharing such a profound history.  To be trusted to pass on such valuable information is like having ownership of a trust.  The most important thing about a trust is what will you do with it? How will you keep the legacy, how will you preserve the treasure of such a name? I was happy to hear the family is continuing the work. Reena is actively working to make a difference in the African American youth of Mississippi and her brother and Mother helps her in that work.  I am equally glad that they have chosen to make their home a landmark that will stand for future generations so that they never forget what love looks like and the devastation hate can cause.