"Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America."
July 15, 2004 through February 27, 2005
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
315 E. Warren Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48201-1443
Phone (313) 494-5800; Fax (313) 494-5855
Searching through America's past for the last 25 years, collector James Allen uncovered an extraordinary visual legacy: photographs and postcards taken as souvenirs at lynchings throughout America. The chilling black-and-white photographs of torture from 1878-1935 tell an indelible tale of the moral contradiction at the heart of a country founded on equal justice for all that turned a blind eye to human-rights violations.
Presenting more than 100 lynching postcards, and related material, the
exhibition Without Sanctuary documents an era in American history that
permitted unspeakable acts of terror against an unprotected segment of
its population. In conjunction with the exhibition, and perhaps more
important than the images themselves is Baring Witness, Baring Our Souls, an eight-month forum designed to encourage dialogue related to the atrocities that occurred, the ensuing activism-initiated by black women,and supported by white women-and solutions to help stem the tide of intolerance and violence that continues to exist in the nation today.
The forum also includes a lecture series, community discussions,
educational programs and film series, all dealing with the emotional
intensity of America's troubled past and present regarding race. Although most of the lynching victims were African American, there were people of other ethnicities hanged occasionally as well.
Through photographic postcards, the museum's archives and artifacts, this exhibition chronicles one of the most horrific periods of terrorism,injustice and racial violence in our nation's history.
"Without Sanctuary" is also a provocative case study of human behavior as it relates to cause and effect. On one hand, everyday people when fueled by prejudice, insecurty and their own fears, are driven to commit thousands of heinous mob murders often with little or no legal evidence to support their claims.
On the other hand, when confronted with unspeakable cruelty and torture, another group of ordinary people risked everything, including their lives to fight back and take a stand.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) led a tireless campaign to pass federal legislation that would ban lynching and punish perpetrators.
Members of local chapters were encouraged to press legal action against lynchers, while the national office produced and circulated pamphlets and other publications that exposed those in positions of authority who
refused to take action in prevention of, or who ignored lynching
incidents. Another individual, Ida B. Wells-Barnett traveled and lectured
widely in the United States and Europe urging people to speak out, stand
up and demand justice against the lynch mobs. She even had the courage to
produce the pamphlets, "Southern Horrors" and "A Red Record" each
considered to be influential documents in American history.
For more information online about the James Allen and John Littlefield
Collection, please visit http://www.withoutsanctuary.com . The site
includes photographs; a narrated media presentation, the feedback section
where visitors can read other people's comments, as well as an
interactive forum where new web site guests can post their reactions and
responses to viewing the material.
General Motors Corporation is the presenting sponsor with additional
support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. This exhibition is also
supported by the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs and
the National Endowment for the Arts. Contributing sponsors include
Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Arab Community Center for Economic and
Social Services (ACCESS), National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People (NACP), and National Conference for Community Justice
The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History has joined
forces with numerous educational and community partners and supporters to
present this eight-month forum and its subject matter in the most
educated, informed responsible and socially sensitive manner.
Educational Partners include Detroit Public Schools, Michigan State
University, Southfield Public School District, University of Michigan,
and Wayne State University. Community Supporters include ACLU-Detroit,
American Jewish Committee-Detroit, Gay Lesbian and Straight Educators,
National Council of Communities for Justice- Detroit, The Urban League
The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History,
315 East Warren Avenue, in Detroit's Cultural Center is open Wednesdays -
Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. and Sundays 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.
"Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America" is included in the cost of museum admission. Museum members and children under 5 are
admitted free. Visit us on the web at http://www.maah-detroit.org
Source: Charles H. Wright Museum of African American Histor