Sunday 25 September 2016

DC doing the decent thing, finally

I see the Smithsonian is opening its new branch on the National Mall in DC: the - you might well think - long overdue National Museum of African-American Culture and History. Never mind, they've done it now; and it's not as though it's a subject the city has completely ignored, as I discovered in 2014 at the Library of Congress. That Civil Rights exhibition (which displayed the above arrest warrant for Rosa Parks) has now ended, though, so it's good to see the subject properly addressed with what looks like typical Smithsonian thoroughness and respect. I'm already planning to give it plenty of time when I'm back there next year.
Having just been in South Africa, and earlier this year in Louisiana, it's a topic that feels very relevant - the photo above was taken in the fascinatingly eclectic Village Museum in Matjiesfontein ('bracelet', though?) - and I'm already prepared for a different take on the concept of museum guilt, which I felt, if only by proxy, in the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. Certainly, it seems that the struggle for universal civil rights and equality is as current and urgent as it has ever been, all around the world, even here in relatively inoffensive New Zealand. Rosa and Nelson would be so disappointed in us.

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