I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person;
now I was free.
There was such a glory over everything.
I felt like I was in Heaven.
Recently I visited the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center museum. What a wonderful place! The exhibits are so informative and well done; many are interactive. I found myself captivated. There are artifacts, life size models, movies, lovely artwork, and the famous slave pen. I was so inspired! I can't wait to go back. Recently installed is a new permanent exhibit, "Slavery Today." (Yes, slavery DOES exist today and probably very close to where you live. shocked? Visit the museum and find out.)
Here are some shots of the slave pen, a holding building for slaves before being sold at the market. Built in 1830 by Captain John Anderson, a Revolutionary War soldier, this 2 story building is 21' x 30' x 26' high. Male slaves were shackled to iron rings in the floor of the second story; female slaves and children were housed on the first floor. This is the actual, original building removed from it's Mason, Kentucky location and reassembled at the Freedom Center.
1 door, 8 small windows, 10' fireplace (where the women cooked)
"The pen is powerful. It has the feeling of hallowed ground. When people stand inside, they speak in whispers. It is a sacred place. I believe it is here to tell a story--the story of the internal slave trade to future generations."
~Carl Westmoreland, curator and senior adviser of the Freedom Center
Dark and damp, rank with odor, human waste and garbage would drop through the cracks of the upper story to the floor below. On that upper story, men were chained two by two to a central chain by short shackles that allowed them to only sit or lie down.
Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson
Journeys I and II
(textile work begun in 1968 and continuing into the present)“In 1968, I decided to create a ‘work’ apart from other works that I created, that would rag on and on into the future. At the same time the work would rag back and back into the past—penetrating the interior of West Afrika and the horrors of the Atlantic Slave Trade which had not even been imagined."
(click on the Journey images to see details)
In the photo above--the faces of slaves who traveled on the Underground Railroad.
Robinson's Journeys is a work in progress that has evolved over the years with her travels and experience. She calls this type of art RagGonNons because "they rag on and on."
Journeys tell very complex stories-- about her own journeys, as well as the journeys of African-Americans from the time they lived in Africa before slavery to the present.
Brilliantly colored, heavily adorned and painted, made from found objects such as fabric, beads, shells, buttons, leaves, bark, handmade paper, and twigs, it is laden with stories.
“A great civilization arose along the Niger river, established by the Songhai, a nation of scholars, warriors, merchant, farmers, and artisans."
The Freedom Center pays tribute to all efforts to "abolish human enslavement and secure freedom for all people." Here we can see and touch and experience viscerally the entrenchment of slavery in human culture. What you find might surprise you. such as how widespread the African slave trade was, and not only, or even the most, in the United States.
The Freedom Center is rich with stories, with history, with human involvement that will cause you to cringe as well as leap for joy.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center website
about the slave pen, detailing the slave trade of Anderson
Aminah's World website
Be sure to click on "create your own artwork
," for a fun, printable interactive art project.
with Aminah Robinson
"I pray over each piece..."
home is more of an environment than a traditional residence--art is everywhere, even imbedded in the kitchen floor...
neighbors anonymously leave fabric scraps on her porch
the Doll House
This is a fun weekly meme, under the direction of Jenny Matlock.
This week, our letter is "F." Come and join HERE. Here is Ms. Matlock's submission.
Now go visit!
PLEASE NOTE: I am adding a LINK
to this blog, Katz and Other Tales, for an enlightening report on slavery and chocolate. Yes, chocolate.
photos by me © 2010