Alexandria’s Black History Museum Director Speaks Out: “It Must Stop Now!”

A mural of George Floyd in Mauerpark in Berlin. (Public domain photo.)

ALEXANDRIA, VA -On Wednesday, June 10, 2020, the Alexandria Black History Museum’s Executive Director Audrey Davis publicly issued the following statement about George Floyd’s murder, starting with an introspective quote by one of the founders of the NAACP and eternal leader for African American equality and civil rights, William E. Dubois:

“How shall Integrity face Oppression? What shall Honesty do in the face of Deception, Decency in the face of Insult, Self-Defense before Blows? How shall Desert and Accomplishment meet Despising, Detraction, and Lies? What shall Virtue do to meet Brute Force? There are so many answers and so contradictory; and such differences for those on the one hand who meet questions similar to this once a year or once a decade, and those who face them hourly and daily.”
― W. E. B. Dubois (1868-1963)

George Floyd (1973- May 25, 2020)

8 minutes and 46 seconds

Say His Name

George Floyd’s life mattered. His life story matters. His murder matters. He became part of a horrible trinity on May 25th when his killing came shortly after the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. This trinity is just the most recent example of America’s horrible legacy of racial terror deaths.

In a few weeks, these three deaths tragically highlight what many ignore and chose not to see – that racism is engrained in American society. Technology permits individuals to document in real-time their life stories, and capture history in the making. For many, these videos share the best of our lives and the aspirational. For African Americans, technology gives us the ability to share our grim reality.

The power of video permits many to see what African Americans have reported for generations – black and white lives do not have the same currency in America. For years, there have been too many videos of lives cut short for living while black. Many African Americans died before George Floyd and there have been others killed since his murder. It must stop now! As America and the world finally appear to be “woke” to the damage of systemic racism, museums and cultural institutions must lead the charge to make history more inclusive. Many museums have pledged to preserve the history of this moment so that Americans can learn from our mistakes. Cultural institutions are an important part of the greater catalyst for change in this country.

For centuries African American lives were not their own. Held in bondage, their labor and intellect were used to build this nation. Then these black bodies were jettisoned when no longer needed. Still, African Americans survived. They created a culture that infuses America with life today. Their contributions to science, literature, art, music, and foodways, ensure that each day Americans benefit from, enjoy, and have their lives made easier due African American knowledge and creativity. Today, Americans will not stand for more black lives jettisoned due to hate.

The Alexandria Black History Museum (ABHM) follows in the footsteps of sister museums related to African American history and culture. The ABHM values a history that has been ignored, distorted, and undervalued. The ABHM staff strives to give voice to the voiceless. We work to preserve what has been torn down, tossed aside and purposely destroyed. The ABHM is a safe  and welcoming place to gather and Speak Truth to Power when the world moves backwards instead of forward.

Without early African American institutions, like the Hampton University Museum which opened in 1868, and hundreds of  other African American museums, historical societies and organizations, we would have never reached September 2016, when the Smithsonian Institution opened the National Museum of African American History and Culture to the public. A National site that reminds the world everyday that Black Lives Matter!  No longer will African American history be in the words of Preservation Virginia …. suppressed, excluded, misrepresented and undervalued…All keepers of African American heritage pledge to forever say George Floyd’s name, preserve the history he represents, and educate the public about the millions of brilliant minds lost to hate in America.

George Floyd is one man. A man who ignited a movement. I can’t breathe…It is time for all of America to take a breath and fight in his memory. Fight to make this world a better place, so no African American ever has to plead – I can’t breathe! 

Audrey Davis, Execuive Director, Alexandria Black History Museum. (Photo: John David Coppola for The Zebra Press)

Audrey P. Davis, Director, Alexandria Black History Museum

June 9, 2020

The Alexandria Black History Museum is documenting stories from this incredible moment in American history. Please consider donating protest placards, buttons, stickers, artwork and t-shirts. We hope you will also work with us to tell your stories through our Oral History Program. Please see:  The Legacy of George Floyd: Documenting Alexandria’s Response on our webpage.  I also want to encourage you to visit the City of Alexandria’s EJI Community Remembrance Project page for more information on Alexandria’s lynching history and social justice initiatives.

 

 

MORE: Alexandria Police Chief Says About George Floyd, “I Witnessed a Homicide.”