I spent the entirety of my last visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the art gallery on the 4th level. The relentless nature of racism so palpable throughout the museum is present in this space as the catalyst for uniquely American art.
The piece that haunted me, “Increase Risk with Emotional Faith” by Kevin Cole, looks innocuous enough: wide, colorful ties intertwined in a haphazard even whimsical fashion. But the chilling inspiration for the piece was the artist’s grandfather’s story of a lynching tree in Tarry, Arkansas and the memories of black men, lynched for trying to vote, their ties wrapped around the noose as a warning to other black men.
Especially in the states of the confederacy, people of color fought and died for the right to vote in this country. I pray it’s a right we take advantage of before it is lost to all Americans.
“You have to tend to this garden of democracy, otherwise things can fall apart fairly quickly. And we’ve seen societies where that happens…so pay attention and vote.” ~ President Barack Obama