Like most of my fellow North Carolinians, I was shocked and saddened by the events of last week. To see mob rule take place in our country was nothing short of appalling. Insurrectionists stampeding through the halls of democracy looking to disrupt and cause mayhem was heartbreaking. This did not have to happen, and the results were the tragic loss of life and destruction of our hallowed halls.
History unfolded before our eyes. We were reminded that democracy is fragile. However, the human spirit is not. The events of this past week, as grim as they were, reminded me of these qualities that allow the human spirit to persevere curiosity, compassion, and determination.
This is where museums, across all mediums, can continue to play a vital role in how we interpret the past, and how we discuss and put into context the social structures that led to what we are witnessing unfold in our American society today. Years of oppression and systemic racism led to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Andre Hill, among many, many, others. The rhetoric and perpetuation of propaganda and misinformation from leaders, that led to domestic terrorists storming our halls of democracy. As grim as we may feel in the wake of these events, we as museums must continue to hold important discussions around race, violence, equality, and the role of democracy in our country.
Museums will and must continue to be places to contemplate, absorb, listen, and host these important discussions. Though COVID-19 has made this more challenging, it should strengthen our resolve as museums to bring together thoughts and conversations around the history and future of race and democracy, to work with BIPOC artists, historians, and activists who explore these ideas and experiences in their own work, and to listen when we engage so that we can do the work. Listening can, and should, play just as an important of a role as any when museums engage our visiting public, both in-person and virtually.
How should we move forward? We must engage with difficult topics, we must work for our communities, we must seek out and create these opportunities. Our work as museum professionals must continue, whether virtually or in personal encounters with our visitors, to hold these discussions around civil engagement, race, and consider what must be done as a nation as we move forward.
Thank you for your continued commitment to do this important work!
Yours in museums,
North Carolina Museums Council