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From Lincoln to Obama

30 January 2009 by Richard

large marble statue of Abraham Lincoln

A picture of the Lincoln Memorial from my trip to Washington DC last year

Hello there.

Well unless you have been living on another planet recently who could not have been gripped by the momentous events when Barack Hussein Obama was elected as the 44th President of the United States. First he is a loving father, a skilled politician, an inspirational leader and role model, who is married to a strong successful and supportive partner, he also happens to be the first African American President. A truly great achievement, especially in a nation that less than 60 years ago had separate seating on buses – white people who boarded the bus took seats in the front rows, whereas Black people who boarded the bus had to sit on the back rows (a certain Rosa Parks disagreed) and where the Jim Crow Laws were in place which segregated everything from schools to public parks and transportation, with a “separate but equal” status for Black Americans.

I could go on, but I think you get the message. As a result unsurprisingly, many people have suggested President Obama go on our Black Achievers Wall and I am sure that he will once we add new achievers to that exhibit. As a museum we are actively collecting Obama related material for our own collections: ranging from campaign badges to a plethora of magazines and newspaper articles. We are planning to have some of this material on display at the first ever US Black History Month event we are holding on 17 February called ‘From Lincoln to Obama: a look at the progress of civil rights’.  We have a number of noted speakers such as Simon Woolley from Operation Black Vote and Wally Brown, the ex-principle of Liverpool Community College. See our website for full details.  

Most people in the UK associate Black History Month with October but it actually developed out of BHM events in the US in February founded by Dr Carter G Woodson, a great historian, author and educator. In 1926 Woodson pioneered a week long celebration of African American history and culture, the second week in February, to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. The week of celebration eventually became Black History Month.

It is a particularly good time to visit the museum as we have two exhibitions to see, Shoot Nations and My Life, My Words, opening on Monday, which explores the lives and experiences of people from Liverpool’s Black communities and their relationships with the ever-changing city. We had a visitor from the US looking around earlier today and they were blown away at just how much information we have on various aspects of slavery as well as thinking both exhibitions were very interesting and visually stimulating. I have shown many people around the museum but it does not matter how many times I walk through it I always find something to look at or listen to in a new way. Most of the time I am sure people think I am just a visitor like them but I always have an eye on how they react to an exhibit or display, that is my job!

Bye for now. 

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