Office of Inclusion and Diversity Brings Traveling Slavery Exhibit to SJU

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

by Kayla Lane '17

In celebration of Black History Month, Saint Joseph’s University will host the traveling exhibit and documentary of Philadelphia’s Lest We Forget Museum of Slavery (LWFSM) on Feb. 22, 4-7 p.m., in the Campion Student Center’s Forum Theatre.

LWFSM uses its extensive collection to illuminate the circumstances and promote awareness of the legacy of slavery. Founded in 2002 by J. Justin and Gwen Ragsdale, a married couple, the museum showcases artifacts of the slave trade and slavery in America, including items used for torture and punishment, Bill of Sale documents and memorabilia from the Jim Crow Era.

Natalie Walker Brown, M.S., director of Student Inclusion and Diversity, says the LWFSM traveling exhibit gives attendees an opportunity to view and experience artifacts and documents that chronicle the enslavement of Black people in this country while engaging with the collectors.

The couple’s collection has been carefully curated over 45 years by J. Justin, while Gwen uses storytelling to personify diasporic experiences as a means for viewers to imagine what it was like to be a slave during the transatlantic slave trade.  

The documentary, titled Lest We Forget — A Review of American Slavery from Capture to Emancipation, will be shown in tandem with the exhibit to provide an opportunity for dialogue about race relations.

Brown anticipates attendees will learn more about this tragic chapter of American history. She also hopes that viewers will understand the long-lasting impact of Jim Crow and racism perpetrated against people of African descent.

“This event allows us to share forgotten voices and stories and the legacy, perseverance and strength of many of our ancestors,” says Brown. “Specifically, to quote the museum, it encourages us to ‘remember that Black history is American history.’”

Open to the public (and recommended for 4th grade and up), the evening will serve as SJU’s culminating Black History Month event.

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