As the nation waits for a resolution on President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, the Burkes Museum in Pennsylvania is struggling to find a way to honor its black American employees.
The museum was founded in the early 1960s by Burke’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Burke, as a place to show the work of the African American community in Philadelphia.
The museum’s staff are now predominantly black, but the museum’s director says there are many more people of color who work in the museum today.
“We have a long history of diversity,” says Burke.
“We have black people who are our directors, who are the staff, who work with us.
It’s not just a diversity problem.
We have a diversity crisis that’s been going on for a very long time.”
The museum’s website describes its mission as, “The Black Museum of the United States: A collection of artifacts and materials that illuminate the complex relationship between the Black community and the white supremacist ideologies of the past, present and future.”
While many museums in America are honoring the lives of African Americans, some are not, with some refusing to display any of the work produced by people of colour.
A new exhibition at the museum, called “The Burke Collection: An Atlas of the Black Lives Matter Movement,” aims to help dispel the myths surrounding the movement.
“When people say they want to see Black History in the media, they often are talking about black people being killed, that we’re all the same.
They’re not talking about the Black lives of others,” says museum director Amy Wiederholz.”
Black History is so much more than just a collection of historical artifacts, because it is a living history that’s being lived, that’s living today,” Wieders says.
“There’s so much that can be learned from our history.”
The exhibit features images of a number of notable African American figures, including Black Panthers, abolitionists, civil rights activists, and the Black Panthers.
In one image, a woman wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a black and white Confederate flag is seen sitting in a chair.
Wiedermuths says this image will be featured throughout the exhibit.
The exhibition is also being used as a vehicle for a project that seeks to raise awareness about the intersection of race and class in America.
Wieserhols says the exhibit has brought together individuals from diverse backgrounds and racial groups to engage with the exhibit and work together.
“It’s a great opportunity to have a conversation about race and its intersections, and to look at how the Black experience and its history is a product of racism and white supremacy and how that affects our lives,” she says.
The Burkes are hoping that the exhibit can change minds.
“This is a place that we feel we are really privileged to have, and that we are able to serve our community,” Wiesers says, “and to do that in an accessible and safe environment.”