Last month, I was in Philadephia with my chapter, Nevaeh Chapter 797. I planned some of the African American historical tours during our trip. One that I was happy to bring my chapter to was the Lest We Forget Slavery Museum in Philly owned by curators J. Justin and Gwen Ragsdale. I spoke with Mrs. Ragsdale a week prior to the trip and both of us were excited to meet one another.
Upon arriving at the museum, we were greeted with open arms. Mr. and Mrs. Ragsdale discussed with my chapter the history of their museum that has been in business since 2002. They have an EXTENSIVE and AUTHENTIC collection of slavery artifacts. As a travel historian, this is the first museum that has the most history of slavery and they are African American. About a week or so ago, there was an article about a plantation in Louisana and it was named the FIRST slavery museum. I totally disagree. I don't know what it was based upon meaning a slavery museum on a plantation. I don't think they have an authentic collection of slave artifacts. I have visited this plantation and I enjoyed the indepth history of the slaves that built the plantation. Out of all the 25+ plantations I have visited, it was one of a few that give an informative and detail tour of slavery. The Lest We Forget Slavery Museum is definitely a slavery museum that I encourge anyone visiting Philadephia to go visit.
Mr. and Mrs. Ragsdale gave my chapter and I a guided tour of the museum. I was amazed by everything they have collected. There were several unique paintings on slavery. One of the paintings that stuck out is the painting below. It touched me because of how black families were separated from each other and how sadly it exist today.
At the bottom of the picture shows the black mans left foot as a slave and right foot of his roots in Africa
The Lest We Forget Black Holocaust Museum had several historical items such as a slave bell, slave keys, whipping paddle, slave yoke, slave tags, slop troth, birthing stool, etc.
There were two exhibits that was very eye-opening to my chapter and the other visitors. It was the Lynching and Stolen Dreams (Black on Black) violence. Mr. and Mrs. Ragsdale talked about history of many black men, women and child who were lynched. Postcards were used with pictures of blacks lynched that white mobsters sent to their families, sometimes during holidays.
Mrs. Ragsdale talked about attending Columbia, SC with her husband to witness the Confederate Flag being taken down. While there, they saw a noose hanging. They were able to take it down without being notice and have it displayed as part of the exhibit.
The other exhibit was Stolen Dreams. This exhibit had over 100 obituaries of black men, women and children who were murdered due to police brutality and black on black violence that has plaqued many communities. Being from Chicago, it is hurtful of all the senseless killings that are happening in my city almost everyday. Being nicknamed as "Chiraq" is not what Chicago is about. There has to be better gun laws, economic growth in communities that do not provide assistance to our people, better education, after school programs, black owned business to circulate the black dollar amongst ourselves and build strong Black Wall Streets in predominantly black communties.
During the guided tour, there were some young black boys and they were really not paying attention and honestly not interested in the discussions of the exhibits, but sadly when they saw a display of guns, they immediately ran to the display and were amazed and excited. The adults and the mother of the young boys were very troubled about their reactions to seeing the guns. Alot of these young boys see guns in their neighborhoods, video games and music videos and it is very disturbing.