We at the Ackland Art Museum stand with members of Black communities worldwide in denouncing racism, violence against Black people, and police brutality. The killing of George Floyd is a recent expression of a centuries-old legacy of oppression endemic to our country’s social, political, and cultural structures.
Some may think that the work of an art museum is unrelated to these issues. To that, we say: Museums are not neutral. They have never been neutral. Museums as conceived in the Western context have been arbiters of elitism, colonialism, and oppression. This is a legacy that the Ackland is aware of and is addressing in reckoning with our own history.
We echo and support our partners at UNC-Chapel Hill and in the local community in their messages of solidarity. In order for us to fulfill the Ackland’s mission to spark insight into ourselves, each other, and the world, we hold space for difficult conversations around the realities we face today. And we vocally affirm that Black lives matter.
We acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers, and we recognize that this statement and others like it run the risk of meaning nothing unless institutions like ours back up our words with action. We are committed to listening to and learning from the invaluable voices of Black artists and community members, and we are committed to doing the work that is necessary to stand unequivocally against systemic racism.
Joining our colleagues at Carolina Performing Arts, we recommend supporting any of the following organizations if you want to be involved: NC Community Bail Fund of Durham, Take Action Chapel Hill, Community Empowerment Fund, the Marian Cheek Jackson Center, Spirit House, NorthStar Church of the Arts, Hayti Heritage Center, Culture Mill, Orange County Justice United, and the UNC-Chapel Hill Campus Y. You can also find anti-racism resources provided by the University Office for Diversity and Inclusion at this link.
Ernest C. Withers, American, 1922-2007, Sanitation workers assemble in front of Clayborn Temple for a solidarity march, Memphis, Tennessee, March 28, 1968. I Am A Man was the theme for the Community on the Move for Equality (C.O.M.E.), which helped spearhead the Sanitation Workers’ strike., 1968, printed 2001, gelatin silver print on fiber paper, 10 15/16 × 13 15/16 in. (27.8 × 35.4 cm). Ackland Fund, 2017.26.10. © Dr. Ernest C. Withers, Sr. courtesy of the WITHERS FAMILY TRUST and the witherscollection.com.