Exhibit highlights power of local Black Lives Matter movement

An unidentified protester during a demonstration last summer in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in Hannibal, Mo.

HANNIBAL — Every February, people across the nation come together for events and activities to celebrate Black History Month. It’s a time to continue our collective journey of honoring and deepening our knowledge of the history and contributions of African Americans and people of African descent who have often not been in our history books or classrooms.

Black History Month began as Black History Week in 1926, created by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the famed African American historian known as the “Father of Black History.” 1n 1976 it became Black History Month. Event organizers and planners hope that someday it will not be necessary to recognize the struggles and contributions of African Americans as American history. The annual commemoration helps fill the gaps left by textbooks to recognize the achievements of African Americans.

The Black Lives Matter movement gained national momentum in 2020 as people took to the streets against police brutality and racial injustice in early June. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, masking up and joining other protesters was a natural reaction to the horrific video murder of George Floyd, who died on a Minneapolis sidewalk, his neck under the knee of a white police officer for more than 8 minutes, choking to death while crying out for his mother with his final breaths while three other officers stood by and watched.

Protests erupted in cities around the world against police brutality, systematic racism and the white supremacy that has both enabled and protected it.

This year, the local Black History Month Committee will offer a roster of events and activities in February to highlight the history and diversity of our local Black community. Most events will be held virtually, but the community is invited to support the 2021 Black History Month event, “RISE-UP, Summer of 2020,” an art installation at the Hannibal Arts Council.

The exhibit proudly states that Black people matter — that the Black Lives Matter movement, mass incarceration, immigration, police brutality, neglect and human rights matter. Photographs of participants from local BLM demonstrations will be displayed to show the power of protest, a protest that lasted for weeks. For the first time in recent memory, local people — Black, white, young and old — marched from Broadway down Main Street, together for a good cause. Nearly 200 people here joined the Black Lives Matter movement, many carried handmade signs which point to the commitment to ending anti-Black racism with slogans like “No Justice No Peace.” Many photographs capturing the most poignant moments of local marchers will line the gallery walls for the 2021 visual arts exhibit.

Jim’s Journey: The Huck Finn Freedom Center continues to explore these issues and create collaborations, believing it’s important for young and old to see these issues addressed on gallery walls in hopes visitors realize that they, too, can make a difference.

The Hannibal Arts Council is at 105 S. Main St. HAC Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Saturday hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The gallery is closed Tuesdays and Sundays. The exhibition will be free to view, though donations are welcomed, and visitors are asked to please remember to wear a mask and socially distance while in the gallery.

For more information on this exhibit and other HAC programs, contact the Hannibal Arts Council at findit@hannibalarts.com, call 573-221-6545 or visit them on the web at hannibalartscom.

Visit jimsjourney.org to learn more about the museum’s mission, content and story.

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