Levine Museum to host exhibit about lynchings
The Levine Museum of the New South soon will host “Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America,” a graphic exhibit examining one of the most horrific chapters of American history.
The exhibit will feature about 70 images from a larger collection created by American antique collector James Allen, who spent more than 25 years gathering photographs and postcards taken as souvenirs at lynchings throughout America. It will be open to the public Sept. 29-Dec. 31.
"'Without Sanctuary' certainly portrays one of the darkest, most painful chapters in southern and American history," said Levine Museum of the New South President Emily Zimmern. "Our intent is not to dwell on this chapter, but to provide people a chance to learn and remember, and to feel empowered to stand up against bigotry and atrocity in the future.
“We hope visitors will view the exhibit without blame or guilt, and ask themselves: Who among us is without sanctuary today?"
Levine Museum historian Tom Hanchett brings lynching history home in a new section he created for the exhibit. A panel called “It Happened Here: Carolina Lynchings,” notes the more than 260 documented lynchings in North and South Carolina.
The lynchings in Poplar Tent, N.C. in 1989; Lake City, S.C. in 1898; and Salisbury in 1906 will be explored in depth. The Salisbury killing is documented in the book “Troubled Ground” by historian Dr. Claude Clegg III, who will be the featured speaker in a national symposium on lynching history Oct. 11 -12 at UNC Charlotte.
Nearly 5,000 people were executed between 1882 and 1968. Most of the victims were African-American men and boys, and most lynchings took place in the south, including North Carolina and the Charlotte region.
“Without Sanctuary” is a collection of photographs and postcards documenting dozens of hangings and other killings carried out by lynch mobs in what often became community events, drawing all ages and classes of people to witness – even celebrate – this brutal violence.
The exhibit can stir strong feelings. The Levine Museum's mission in bringing this exhibit to Charlotte is to recognize the humanity of those who were executed, to educate visitors and acknowledge that these atrocities indeed took place, and to promote cross-cultural discussion that can bring healing and vigilance against future acts of bigotry and violence.
“Without Sanctuary” is owned by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center through the ownership of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. The images and postcards previously have been exhibited in New York City, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Jackson, Miss., and Cincinnati.
Levine Museum will be the final location for “Without Sanctuary” as a traveling exhibit. After closing in Charlotte, it will be installed as a permanent exhibit at the new National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.
For more information, visit www.museumofthenewsouth.org or call (704) 333-1887. The museum is at 200 East 7th St.
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