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Schomburg Exhibit: Time Capsule of Transcendence, Triumph
 

     One of the primary reasons the African race suffers from global disrespect is because of institutionalized ignorance concerning its history and heritage.  Generation after generation, century upon century, mankind has been ladle-fed a legacy of lies regarding the origin, nature, development behavior, contribution and influence of African people.

     Based on these mega-doses of mendacity, those participating in an unabated attack on Africans have acted with arrogance and impunity.  Whether referring to the ruthlessness of Lord Kitchener, the barbarism of King Leopold, the imperialism of Cecil Rhodes, the cannibalism of Jeffrey Dahmer, the bigotry of Ted Danson, or the racism of Mark Fuhrer-man, all have operated from a false and pernicious premise.

     It was in this continuous climate of hatred and havoc that a number of African men, during the latter half of the nineteenth century, arose around the globe to counter the attack by challenging the premise.  Because these men of separate calling devoted their lives to African redemption, they were regarded as “Race Men.”

     One such Race Man was Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, who distinguished himself by not only discovering, detailing, documenting, and disseminating information, but by also amassing a comprehensive collection of ten thousand items from the four corners of the earth.  This massive collection of books, manuscripts, artworks, photographs and other source material has been meticulously condensed into a memorable exhibit of enlightenment spanning the sojourn of African peoples from historical sovereignty to contemporary servitude.

     The Schomburg exhibit combines the record of atrocity with a revelation of achievement by showcasing a dual display of degradation and dignity.  Ultimately, it is a time-capsule of transendence and triumph.

     Technically, there are two exhibitions.  One is called “Arturo Alfonso Schomburg: Race Man,” and the other is entitled “Arturo Alfonso Schomburg: The Man and his Times.”  Whereas the latter acts as a biological barometer that monitors his migration from Puerto Rico birthplace to Harlem workbase, the former is a sociological synopsis that connects his contribution to the temper of the times and links him to his learned and literati peers.

     The “Race Man” exhibition is divided into four categories: “Rethinking Slavery,” “Governing Ourselves and Others,” “Defending the Race and the Nation,” “Defending the Race and the Nation,” and “Achieving Excellence and Equity.”  “The Man and his Times” exhibition is also sectioned into four areas.: “The Caribbean Man (1874-1891),” “Migration and Settlement (1891-1898),” “The New Negro (1898-1925),”

And “North to Harlem (1915-1938).”  Collectively, these two exhibitions act as an academic appetizer enticing one to a daily diet of data and documentation.

     All in all, this double exhibition celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Schomburg Center of Research in Black Culture is an affirmation and an assault on ignorance.  By correcting misinformation and shattering false propaganda, it constitutes a stockpiled salvation of the mind.  See it!  The mind it saves might be your own.

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Author:  GEORGE EDWARD TAIT

Publication Name: NEW YORK AMSTERDAM NEWS

Publication Date: 09-16-95

 

 
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