Voice & Viewpoint Contributing Writer
Photos by Steve Peterson
“Throughout the centuries, human beings have used art to tell the story, to be the archivist for the journey, to share life messages of hope, fear, pain and inspiration,” said Leah Goodwin, guest curator of the “1619 National Celebration of Black Women Exhibit” now on display at the Women’s Museum of California. On October 3, the museum provided a glimpse into that shared experience with a VIP reception held in the museum’s main gallery at Liberty Station. The exhibit runs through December 2019.
Joined in partnership with the local 1619 Committee, the 1619 Exhibit is dedicated to educating and uplifting Black women and girls about their ancestors while encouraging them to walk in their power. It features original artwork, historical artifacts and local San Diego stories of African American artists, including Dorothy Annette, Manuelita Brown, Albert Fennell, Brenda De Flanders, Calvin Manson, and Mary Fredericks, and artifacts from the collection of Dr. Willie Morrow.
The exhibit takes visitors on a visual journey and provides a glimpse of the nationwide 1619 celebration.
2019 marks the 400th year commemoration since the first slave ship filled with African captives arrived at the shore of Jamestown, Virginia in the year 1619. On board were men, women, and children, some as young as eight and nine years old. Africans could be held in servitude for life, though white Christian indentured servants could only be held for a limited term.
In 1641, Massachusetts legalized slavery, specifying that a child inherited its status from the mother, rather than the father, reversing English common law. This was the start of the exploitation of Black women’s bodies for the growth and sustainability of America. For centuries thereafter, black women have been marginalized, misrepresented, mistreated, and denied their just due.
1619 National Celebration of BLACK WOMEN was born out of a necessity to recognize the women in history that emerged from slavery, defied the odds and came out victorious.
“It is my hope that this exhibition opens doors and gets people talking about our collective past, our shared legacy, our families and our communities. I know we will find commonalities and learn about our differences, and maybe, just maybe, heal some ancestral wounds,” Goodwin said.
San Diego was the pioneering city for this event and recognizes that the daily actions and contributions by individuals, organizations, and institutions across the country are part of a larger movement. The goal of 1619 National Celebration of Black Women is to educate and empower communities and show Black women and girls that a new day is on the horizon, and the continued path of greatness paved by their ancestors is boundless.
For more information on “Black Women & American History,” take a journey from the slave block to the White House at: https://www.1619nationalcelebrationofblackwomen.com/historical-timeline .