“Purchased Lives Exhibition” New Opening at the Holocaust Museum

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“Purchased Lives Exhibition” New Opening at the Holocaust Museum

The four individuals educating attendees on slave trade.

The four individuals educating attendees on slave trade.

The four individuals educating attendees on slave trade.

The four individuals educating attendees on slave trade.

By Andrea Espino, Staff Writer

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This past weekend marked the opening of the Purchased Lives Exhibition at the Illinois Holocaust Museum that will be up through August. A long and empowering conversation was held to introduce the exhibition and its focus on slave trade that was led by four individuals Erin Greenwald, Dr. Nancy Bercaw, Roosevelt University professor Dr. Christaphor Reed and award-winning filmmaker Morgan Elise Johnson.

The exhibit is called Purchased Lives because it represents the American slave trade that occurred from 1808 to 1865. An informational session introduced the exhibition and lasted from 2:00 P.M. to 3:30 P.M. The program had a full audience that consisted of all ages, from children to older adults, and all kinds of races and ethnicities.

The evolution from the domestic slave trade and how that affected the American industrial system and the sizing of clothes was a hot topic in the conversation. Historically there has typically only been two sizes, big or small, and no in between.

“Our financial capital and American Industrialization came from the domestic trade system,” Bercaw said. “Before they came up with sizes of clothing and shoes, an artisan would usually make them for you. There was no one coming in to look for size eight shoes and a size four dress.”

Greenwald then addressed the Civil Rights Movement and how people of African descent have boycotted restaurants and had rallies to stop segregation once and for all.

“Elizabeth Freeman sued the state of Massachusetts because they wanted to enslave her,” Greenwald said.

This was one of the first steps to ending slavery and Freeman won that case. If it wasn’t for her resilience it could’ve taken more years for slavery to end in Massachusetts.

To this day, there is still segregation, even after learning about the history of it throughout elementary school and high school. The Van Dyke trial is one key example of it. Reed does not sugar coat the ramifications of it because there have been many instances between white officers and colored teens.

“It is dangerous out there and I advise you to cooperate,” Reed said.

This exhibit grabbed a lot of people’s attention, seeing as almost every seat was taken in the large room. There is much to be learned from this new program, so be sure to check it out to learn more about the richness of American history.