RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Thursday marked the end of what many say is the most tumultuous and controversial Black History Month in recent memory. But is also marks the start of an exhibit that dives into the real stories of black history.
For some, the past six weeks at Virginia’s Capitol revealed an ugly truth about our commonwealths past, but it’s not the whole story.
If you want that, you have to listen to the beat and see for yourself 400 years of black history on display at the Main Street Station gallery.
The Richmond Slave Trail Commission (RSTC) unveiled some of that history with the Truth and Reconciliation exhibit. It’s the first in a four-part, year-long gallery that aims to reflect comprehensive and authentic representations of the African story not only in the Americas, but also in Virginia and Richmond from before 1619 through the present day.
“Every day is a day of celebration and commemoration of the contributions of African-Americans,” RSTC chairperson Delores McQuinn said.
During the exhibit, visitors got up close and personal with artifacts that predate the slave trade.
“The Ivory Coast, Ghana, particularly the West Africa area,” McQuinn said. “What is on display is going to give us great insight again to who we are, where we came from.”
The commission hopes the exhibition series will memorialize the lives of enslaved Africans and highlight the legacy that came afterward.
Former Gov. Bob McDonnell was one of the dozens in attendance who watched as Gov. Ralph Northam thanked the commission for bringing this exhibit to life.
McDonnell said the current racial controversy involving Northam helped spark a conversation that was long overdue.
"I certainly condemn those pictures and everything they stand for, but it gives us a new ability to speak openly, black and white, about our history,” McDonnell said.
Northam did not address the controversy during his speech at the exhibit.
“The sins of America is still on America, but we have an opportunity, particularly, now to re-frame the story, retell it and then leave a legacy - a reconciliation and truth - for generations yet to come,” McQuinn said.
Each quarter of the the exhibition will focus on truth and reconciliation. The next exhibit will run from April through May and will focus on slavery from 1619 to the Civil War. That will be followed by an emancipation exhibit, before concluding with an exhibit titled “Beyond Freedom: The Quest for Equality and Equity.”
The Truth and Reconciliation exhibit will be open to the public beginning Friday.