On Saturday, January 19th, 2016, I visited Afro-American Historical and Cultural Society Museum in Jersey, Pennsylvania. In the Museum, I observed many galleries for lectures and special exhibits, within the collection of material culture of New Jersey's African Americans along with African artifacts within the museum. Below are two pieces that caught my attention and; therefore, I choose to discuss.
The first exhibit I will discuss was titled the Pullman Porters (a black labor union and all civil movements) also known as “Brother Hood of Sleeping car Porter.” This exhibit was the first African-American labor union organized by African American workers of Pullman Company in August 1925, and it was African Americans first labor organization to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor (AFL). In this brown color Scroll, lighted candles were placed in a Zigzag pattern wooden candle holder. The left sides’ candles were Green while the other right sides’ were Red in color separated by one black candle shining bright like a diamond. Below quoted words were written in white, “For our ancestors and their indomitable spirit, for our struggle and those who fought on our behalf.” When I saw that scroll, it signified “journey of endurance and hope” the green candles on the left side of the scroll embodied life, energy, and Growth, while the Red Candles represented Strength, determination, and love. The black candle in the center separating the green and red candles embodied power and authority. In general, what I see in this scroll is a civil right movement, in another word “Servitude to civil right” a movement that changed the lives of the present generation and will transform the lives of the future generation of African-American and Americans.
The next work that caught my attention was titled The Underground Railroad, also known as “Liberty Line.” It led slaves to freedom in Northern Free States like Mexico, Canada, etc. Maps of Underground Railroad routes through New Jersey, the maps and documents indicate that Jersey City was the last station for the underground railways routes. The Quest for Freedom in the 19th century encouraged ten thousand and above of fugitive slaves to make a dangerous journey along the Underground Railroad. Slaves from different states arrived here. They all travelled to Delaware River whereby they crossed over to New Jersey to continue their journey to Jersey City and the Northern Free States like Canada etc. New Jersey state eliminated slavery and statute passed in 1846, therefore with this banned in slavery, slaves were hidden in a “SAFE HOUSE” by two leaders of abolitionist movement before continuing with their journeys to Jersey City. In this Map with different escape routes shows the “African burying ground” near the crossroad of Pine Street and John Stone Avenue. Underground Railroad epitomize “liberty network”, various escape routes that led them to civil war and freedom, the Map with multiple escape routes in today’s world reminds me of “REFUGEE CRISIS” the world is facing, seeking heaven on earth is a journey of endurance and hope. Refugees from affected countries are also using “escape route approach” to lead them to freedom and better places.
In conclusion, I believe the Pullman Porters (a black labor union) and The Underground Railroad exhibits relates to each other, and they both illustrates the rise of the civil right movement in the 19th century, these artifact gives the message of a journey of hope and endurance and finally freedom.