CHICAGO (CBS) — This Juneteenth Saturday fell on the day of the grand reopening of the DuSable Museum of African American History in Washington Park.
The Blank Slate Monument – now making a stop in Chicago on a tour across the country – was created by artist Kwame Akoto-Bamfo, and is intended as a counterpoint to the more than 1,800 Confederate monuments and symbols on public display around the country.
Akoto-Bamfo’s mission is to use art to forward the racial and social justice movements, help inspire healing for the nation, and give voices to the silenced and oppressed.
Contrary to the Confederate statues that show military figures standing atop pedestals, the Blank Slate features what a news release described as four figures “standing on top of the only thing they have – each other.” The figures symbolize the generational struggles in the African American experience – as described in the news release, they are “a slave ancestor, a lynched union soldier martyr, a struggling mother activist, and a baby representing the next generation.”
In addition to the presentation of the sculpture, the DuSable Museum also held a block party for Juneteenth. The event included free museum admission on Saturday and for the rest of the month. The museum is also beginning a new event series featuring outdoor entertainment such as jazz, dance, and comedy.
“This museum has served as both witness and beacon to Black Chicago as we’ve made our way along our journey,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
The mayor also thanked places like the DuSable and other centers of arts and culture for their resilience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.