Lynching exhibit opens
Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 1, 2007
THE SELMA TIMES-JOURNAL
A new exhibit titled “Nooses are Scarey Things” opened today at the Slavery and Civil War Museum located on Water Ave. The exhibit is free and open to public from noon to 5 p.m. for the next week.
“This is for the young people, who don’t know the history and what a noose represents,” Faya Rose Toure, one of the co-creators for the exhibit said. “People are saying that hanging nooses is not a hate crime,” she said. “It’s not just a prank. Somebody will get hurt.” Toure along with Carolyn Gaines-Vaughn completed the bulk of work on the exhibit.
“We’ve had people come in here and cry. One sister came in and she couldn’t go any further,” Toure said, pointing to the entrance.
The exhibit room is dim, with the scent of burning wood. Light comes from candles and lanterns.
Tree stumps with names of lynching victims from Dallas County line the sides of the exhibit. “We deliberately opened it on Halloween, to show people that there is something to truly be afraid of, true terror and fear,” Sanders said.
While the exhibit is graphic in nature, Toure pointed to children in the photos on display. “People say this exhibit may be too much for children, but you see children smiling in these photos, at these men being lynched,” she said. “These were public events.”
A movie will accompany the exhibit, “putting lynchings in context.” Afterward, visitors are invited to enter the healing room before leaving the museum. “We don’t want people to leave feeling anger,” Toure said. “[But] we have to acknowledge it before we can begin healing. The hate you see, when you have people saying b—- and n—–, that hate comes from this history.”
Toure said a recent rash of noose hangings was another reason for the exhibit.
“It’s painful and it’s a part of history that must be remembered,” Toure said. She likened it to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. “Lynchings were a tool to instill fear and intimidation, just like the attacks of 9/11…If we don’t remember, it could happen again,” Toure said, adding it took years before federal legislation was passed making lynching illegal.
Toure said the ultimate goal of the exhibit is not to inspire fear, as terrorist acts are meant to do, but to inspire change that comes from the confrontation of demons. “My thing is you can’t change anything if you are afraid,” Toure said.