Throughout the summer, I have had the fantastic opportunity to serve as an Obermann Public Scholar at the African American Museum of Iowa. Through the generous funding of the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the help of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, I was given the space to research the ethics of slavery education and create designs for an underground railroad education program. Through this process, I gained a critical awareness about the fraught dimensions and history of teaching slavery in the United States, alongside having the room to learn how to create ethically sourced curriculum.
African American museums are often born out of lack. Lacking presence in a community. Lacking public awareness of African American impact. Lacking knowledge of the fraught and powerful history of African American influence. However, from the lack, comes activism, profound stories, and testaments to the continual assertion of humanity on behalf of African Americans. This theme of capitalizing on lack and finding community, as a result, unites the African American Museum of Iowa and the DuSable Museum of African American History.