Museum Exhibit Shares ‘Lest We Forget’, Stories of Reshaped Destinies

E.LANSING, MI —  Lest We Forget: The Triumph Over Slavery" is an internationally touring exhibition at the Michigan State University Museum that offers an inspiring look at the cultural, political, economic, and social practices enslaved Africans developed while enduring the dehumanizing conditions of slavery.

"The exhibition is unique in that it focuses less on enslaved Africans as victims and more on the ways in which they reshaped their destinies and place in history through the creation of distinctive cultures in their communities worldwide," explains C. Kurt Dewhurst, MSU Museum director and one of the exhibit’s organizers at MSU. In addition, "Lest We Forget" demonstrates the enormous economic impact of the slave trade and enslaved African labor on the development of the Americas and Europe and the parallel disruption of Africa’s economic, political and social life. Some of the lasting cultural contributions explored include language, religion, music and institutions.


"Lest We Forget" draws on the most recent scholarship around the slave trade, and was adapted from an exhibit of the same name previously featured at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. Expertise from Michigan State University also contributed to the creation of "Lest We Forget." Jualynne E. Dodson — professor, Department of Sociology, African American & African Studies Graduate Program and Director, African Atlantic Research Team — was a researcher and developer of the exhibit.

The exhibition, which is now traveling internationally, was also developed in association with UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. In a related effort, UNESCO also developed "The Slave Route Project," designed to promote research and documentation of the slave trade and slavery in order to educate the international community on the history and consequences of slavery today.

"Lest We Forget: The Triumph Over Slavery" is on exhibit in the MSU Museum’s Main Gallery through March 4, 2007. The MSU Museum is hosting "Lest We Forget" as part of the university’s series of educational activities marking the 110th anniversary of Plessy v. Ferguson, the controversial landmark Supreme Court case establishing the doctrine of "separate but equal." (Plessy v. Ferguson was later overturned by the Court in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education.) The MSU College of Law is developing a number of lectures and public programs centered on slavery, human rights and these historic legal landmarks. 2006 also marks the Year of African Arts and Culture at MSU, with exhibits, programs, performances and activities across campus celebrating human expression and the African experience worldwide. For more details, see . This exhibit was funded by grants from the Michigan State University "Creating a More Inclusive Excellence" Grant Program and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

The MSU Museum is Michigan’s natural history and culture museum and the state’s first Smithsonian Institution affiliate. Interdisciplinary research, programs and activities are in partnership with the College of Arts & Letters, College of Natural Science, College of Social Science, MSU Extension, and University Outreach and Engagement. Additional support comes from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs to encourage, develop and promote an enriched environment of artistic, creative and cultural activity in Michigan.

The MSU Museum features three floors of special collections and changing exhibits and is open seven days a week free of charge (donations are welcome). The museum is located on West Circle Drive next to Beaumont Tower on the MSU campus in East Lansing and is accessible to persons with disabilities. Hours are Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 1-5 p.m. For more information, call (517) 355-2370 or see .