Arthur Ashe Boulevard dedication launches exhibit marking 400 years since arrival of slaves

Published: Jun. 20, 2019 at 6:02 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Arthur Ashe Boulevard will be dedicated June 22 with a ceremony at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

The dedication coincides with the opening of an exhibit at the museum “Determined: The 400-year Struggle for Black Equality.” The dedication will take place on the museum’s front lawn and is free and open to the public.

“It focuses on the myriad ways in which black people have fought for equality,” said Curator of Exhibitions, Karen Sherry.

The new exhibit traces the ways in which black people have shaped American history through their fight for freedom, equality, and justice.

“Black history has always been deeply entwined in our nation’s history," said Sherry.

Traveling through four centuries, the exhibition starts in 1619, the year the first enslaved African Americans arrived in Virginia. Then it continues in chronological order, highlighting artifacts and the stories of 30 different Virginians.

Once you’ve reached the end of the exhibit, you’re in present day. There the exhibit has two different types of interactive displays where guest can write a note on a marker board wall or a card.

On the marker board guest are to answer the question, “What does equality mean to you" and on the card, guest are to answer who inspires them and why, then add the card to the exhibition wall.

The museum said 2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the first arrival of captive Africans in North America. A large graphic will be installed at the steps of the museum featuring the names of 11,000 slaves who were identified through the documents in the museum’s collection as part of the “Unknown No Longer” database.

“Determined" will be on display until March 29, 2020, and is included with museum admission.

The exhibit includes slavery-era restraints, freedom documents, letters, works of art, a pamphlet signed by Martin Luther King Jr, tennis shoes worn by Arthur Ashe, a tear-gas canister used during the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville and copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment signed by Abraham Lincoln.

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