Volume 52, No. 28
President's Commission on the Status of Minorities
At the March 27 PCSM meeting, President Bill Chace said he was interested in speaking with commission members about a collection of lynching images from the late 1800s and early 1900s in the United States.
The collection is owned by Atlantan James Allen, who recently published the graphic images in Without Sanctuary. It was first displayed last year at the Horowitz Gallery in New York and currently is showing at the New York Historical Society. Emory, along with Dillard University in New Orleans, is considering hosting the exhibit after its New York run, Chace said, and asked members for their opinions.
Chace passed around a copy of Allen's book for the group to examine. Many of the photographs in the book came from lynching postcards that people mailed to relatives and friends, often with personal inscriptions. The book also contains thoroughly researched accounts of the lynchings, their victims and their alleged "crimes."
"Not all the lynchings were of African Americans, of males or in the South," Chace said, adding that it would be necessary to display this exhibit from an educational angle, much like exhibits at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington. "That's the only way I can plausibly see it displayed."
While many members admitted to having a knee-jerk reaction to the exhibit, there was only one absolute opinion against it. The other members in attendance discussed possible ways to display such an exhibit to follow an educational path.
PCSM member Vera Rorie, Director of the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services, told the group she had met Allen and found him to be a well-informed historian who could shed a lot of light on the collection. Rorie and fellow member Nagueyalti Warren said there were many books and materials on lynching in the African American community that could be incorporated into the exhibit.
Chace invited a group of PCSM members to see the exhibit in New York.
"An exhibit such as this touches a combination of the head, the heart and sometimes the gut," said chair Robert Lee.
Chace said a decision was not immediate and the group could take time to research its options.
The next PCSM meeting will be Monday, April 24, at 3:30 p.m. in the Administration Building.
- Stephanie Sonnenfeld