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Museum's credibility depends on its presentation
|Visit the Photo Place|
In light of recent details on the scholars' panel discussion of Fredericksburg's new slavery museum, let me add: This museum has the potential either to be something unique or to be a vehicle for further antagonizing race relations. The issue of presentation is key.
Slavery was, and is, a terrible institution. However, the issue of the punishment side of slavery must reflect the perspective of the times and its acceptable punishment for crimes.
Many of those punishment forms, which today seem barbaric, were a unilaterally accepted means of punishing offenders--of any race. In its presentations, the slavery museum must distinguish what was the bygone era's norm, and without the bias of today's social behavior standards, must show what would be considered an atrocity during that time.
Most adults reading this will remember the sting of the belt from a parental disciplinary measure during childhood, but today such measure would warrant child abuse charges or an investigation by Social Services.
Views, attitudes, and standards for punishment have evolved tremendously, and now, in order to truly represent slavery in the most historically accurate light, the slavery museum can bolster its credibility by addressing how time affects views.
If planned and executed properly, this new museum can serve as a valuable educational tool and revered shrine of remembrance.