AUSTIN – A West Aspect workplace that was ransacked throughout social unrest this summer season is turning into a museum honoring black historical past and tradition.

The organizers of the Future Drive Empowerment Heart at 5404 W. Madison St. wished to create a museum for years. However a brand new sense of urgency arose after police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis and riots ravaged Madison Avenue, one of many West Aspect’s most important commerce corridors, museum director Ralph Hopkins stated.

“We have been attempting to determine the mindset of why this could be occurring,” Hopkins stated. “We attribute this to a scarcity of actual understanding of who we’re as a individuals, our tradition.”

Seeing the riots as a symptom of a deeper drawback, the group members determined to transform their looted workplace right into a museum and group middle, Hopkins stated.

“We could not simply take a look at him like, ‘These are dangerous individuals,’” Hopkins stated. “As a substitute of tackling the floor, we needed to take a better look and attempt to attain individuals the place they’re, construct shallowness and discuss who we’re as a individuals. . “

The mini-museum – which isn’t open to the general public – has services documenting essential chapters in black historical past, together with the transatlantic slave commerce, the cotton trade, the Motown music period, the Airmen from Tuskegee and Black Wall Avenue in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The exhibitions mix visible arts, cinema and music.

The middle is designed to be a response to the denial of the precise to vote that prevails within the black group by giving individuals a way of satisfaction of their historical past, Hopkins stated. The reveals will present the chance to reclaim the nefarious narratives that plague black communities, he stated.

“We watch on TV on a regular basis how we’re portrayed virtually as savagery. It is at all times adverse stuff. You do not see… who you’re as a individuals, the accomplishments, ”Hopkins stated.

When accomplished, the museum will permit locals to be taught extra about their historical past and tradition with out leaving the West Aspect, Hopkins stated. Organizers plan to carry after-school youth packages and reveals that archive the tales “of the unsung heroes of the West Aspect of Chicago,” Hopkins stated.

Organizers are creating an internet site and fundraising marketing campaign to develop the museum, which they hope to open later this yr.

“We now have the DuSable [Museum of African American History] on the south aspect… however on the west aspect of Chicago, we’ve nothing, ”Hopkins stated. “We really want one thing the place group members do not need to journey that far to realize some self-knowledge.”

Pascal Sabino is a Report for America Corps member masking Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Membership Chicago.

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