On Friday, October 26 at 4:30 p.m., it seemed as though every single member of the Haverford community gathered at the entrance of the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery (CFG). After leaving the Brooklyn Museum, “Legacy of Lynching,” the exhibit produced in collaboration with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and the Brooklyn Museum with support from Google, arrived at Haverford and will remain until December 20. EJI is a non-profit founded by Bryan Stevenson that fights racial injustices and challenges economic inequality, particularly focusing on “ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States.”
To inaugurate the exhibit, which will be reviewed in a separately, Professor of Religion and Director of the Hurford Center Ken Koltun-Fromm thanked a long list of students, faculty, and staff involved in putting together the show at Haverford. He highlighted Kalia Brooks Nelson’s curatorial inputs, and Josh Begley, Alexandra Bell, Sonya Clark, Ken Gonzales-Day, Ayana V Jackson, Titus Kaphar, Glenn Ligon, Lorna Simpson, Hank Willis Thomas, among other participating artists. He also thanked Associate Director of the CFG Matthew Callinan, along with several other staff members at the Hurford Center.
Prof. Koltun-Fromm then introduced Assistant Professor of English Lindsay Reckson and main sponsor of the show. Professor Reckson extended her own thanks to all the groups and individuals involved with the show. She reminded the audience that shows like these, that confront us with the undeniable past, are crucial now more than ever, and highlighted some of its unique features: the absence of black bodies, the emphasis placed on resistance movements (both past and present). The show, she said, traces a line between the lynchings of the early 20th century and today’s Black Lives Matter movement.
Before leaving the microphone, Professor Koltun-Fromm reminded the attendants that a buffer space would be left between the exhibit and the food provided by Dining Services, in order to create a truly reflective space within the gallery. He thanked the Black Students League for this idea, and their contributions throughout the production of the show.
Drew Cunningham, Haverford junior and Professor Reckson’s research assistant, was instrumental in putting together a satellite exhibit, “The Lynching of Zachariah Walker,” which will be on display in VCAM starting Nov. 5 and tells the story of a lynching that took place 40 minutes away from Haverford’s campus. Professor Reckson then read “The Ayes Have It,” a poem by Tiana Clark which should be “required reading for all Americans, and perhaps all humans.” After she reminded her audience of the James Baldwin quote that stands in the entryway to the gallery: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced,” the doors opened, and we entered the show.
Written by Federico Perelmuter ’21, comparative literature major.
Edited by Eleanor Morgan ’20.
Photos by Arshiya Bhayana ’22.