In This Space The Migration Stories Of Black Women & Women Of Color Are Sacredly Displayed
Walking east on Empire Boulevard in Brooklyn’s Lefferts Gardens, an unsuspecting brownstone sits behind a sliver of grass housed by a black, short, iron gate.
As you approach the steps a red door greets you. But this is not Elizabeth Arden where women of leisure congregate. This is the Museum of Women’s Resistance (MoWRe), a home and community for women to touch and agree.
On Friday March 8, the Black Women’s Blueprint, the operating organization of the museum, opened its doors for a new exhibit titled, “Beyond The Border Wall: The Spatial, Racial and Sexual Mapping of Seen and Unseen Migrants.”
“The museum itself was born out of the truth and reconciliation commission that we did in 2016. We had a national platform for Black women to speak their truths at the United Nations and Riverside Church,” said Sevonna Brown, Assistant Executive Director at Black Women’s Blueprint.
The exhibit aims to tie together the migration stories of Black women and women of color. Their experiences are unedited and raw, summarizing the pain of sexual violence, physical violence and racial discrimination that descendants of slaves faced in their forced journeys to America, passed down to their descendants who fled the south only to face more subjugation in the north and the west.
The national conversation surrounding immigration has focused mainly on our brothers and sisters at the southern border, who face an administration filled with xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia and discrimination. But the exhibit aims to destruct the walls and barriers that divide and disconnect.
“It pays homage to the fact that there’s actually great fragility in this empire, in this wall, that is trying to deny our people of who they are. Of all the beauty and the capacity and the joy and the celebration and the resilience that we bring through this incredibly horrific state-sanctioned, state-facilitated, state-orchestrated violence that is designed to keep people in a place of stagnation as they desire to mobilize their families and their communities,” Brown continued.
As you enter the exhibit, a wall of colorful legos greets you, reminding us of the fragile barriers that we build to keep the “unwanted” from entering. As you walk towards the back of the first floor, a table fully with all the essential needs for a dinner party awaits you. The table was personally donated by Edith Savage-Jennings, a prominent civil rights activist who worked alongside most of the leaders of the movement including Martin Luther King Jr.
Each seat is occupied by women of the past and present including King, Rosa Parks, Angela Davis and Alicia Garza. Savage-Jennings shared a close relationship with the King family who were frequent visitors to her home.
“At this table she has told us that Martin, Coretta and Rosa Parks have all had a seat at this table at some point,” said Christina Jaus, one of the co-founders of the Black Women’s Blueprint. “And she gifted it to us because she wanted to make sure that it was something that was accessible, and wanted to make sure that folks understood that the tables that you may see in your grandparents dining rooms are things where change can actually happen.”
The exhibit also features photography from Encarni Pindado, a Spanish artist who embedded herself at the southern border to capture the provocative and testimonial photographs that share the experiences of women at the border. Many of the works housed in the exhibit are collaborative efforts, using mixed media, visual representations and sound stations to tell a specific narrative.
On the second floor, the stories of forgotten victims of sexual violence are centralized, under the harrowing journey of Recy Taylor. Taylor was kidnapped and raped by a group of white men in Alabama while she walked home from church on September 2, 1944. Her story became amplified right before her death in 2017 after the #MeToo movement erupted.
One of the most powerful exhibits was a comprehensive list of Black women who were lynched from 1870-1957. The large poster is flanked at the top by a hanging rope and at the bottom by a table which houses a pitcher of water and a plant where you can pour water into the plant as you speak the name of an ancestor.
The night ended with a poetry reading and the manifesting of intentions, a literal sowing of seeds. Each person who attended was gifted with a small bean that we placed back into a small offering pot of earth. In hopes that our intentions will sprout forth and bear fruit. In hopes to continue scaling the walls in order for them to come tumbling down.
Click here to learn more about the MoWRe and how you can support their efforts. The exhibit will be on display until the end of May.