The Washington State History Museum hosts Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth., a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian. The museum is only one of two on the West Coast to host the exhibit, a narrative of our nation through stories of revolutionary, iconic African American men.
“Many of these men’s contributions have often not been explored in the history books, as other narratives have been favored,” said Mary Mikel Stemp, the audience engagement director for the Washington State Historical Society.
These are men who have fought for justice, revolutionized art, and touched millions of lives directly and indirectly. While you may find that some are names you know well, there are others who are unknown, though their journeys have altered the history and culture of our country.
The exhibit presents the biographies of the men paired with original artwork. The combination highlights the individual’s legacy as well as creates a collective tapestry of what it is to be an African American man.
A few of my favorites (perhaps directly related to being a Baby Boomer):
- A defiant Muhammed Ali standing over Sonny Liston after winning the heavyweight title, presented in contrast with a photo of him gently holding his children.
- President Obama and the power of the Oval Office, presented in contrast with his gentle hand held out to a small boy looking up in awe at the most powerful man in the free world.
- The Reverend Martin Luther King’s non-violent protests, presented in contrast to the violent protests of the Black Panthers.
- The scarred back of a slave, whipped into submission by an overseer, portraying man’s shockingly inhumanity toward other men and serving as a reminder of the depth of the cruelty that slavery represented.
The exhibition is sobering, uplifting, and a hard look at the shared experiences of African American men across generations.
Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth. will run through March 15th, 2020.
The Washington State History Museum (website here) is located at 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, Washington. Hours are 10 am-5 pm, Tuesday through Sunday, and until 8 pm every Third Thursday.
Admission is $14 for adults; $11 for students, seniors, and active and retired military; and $40 for families (two adults and up to four children ages 6-18). Children 5 are free. The Washington State History Museum offers a variety of discounts and free admissions throughout the year. Check their website (here) for more information about those opportunities.
Photo credit: Muhammad Ali and Family, 1978. Ron Harvey. Mirrorpix/Courtesy of Everett Collection/Ron Harvey. Used with permission.