Northwestern University’s exhibit shows the history of anti-Black violence.

“A Site of Struggle” at Northwestern University’s Block Museum of Art documents America’s history of anti-Black violence through the eyes of artists.

This exhibition traces the history of anti-lynching campaigns from the 1890s through the creation of Black Lives Matter in 2013.

Janet Dees (curator of the exhibit) stated that she hopes the art will allow people to take a moment and get a deeper understanding of the roots of racial violence in this country.

Kerry James Marshall is one of the featured artists in this exhibition. Marshall’s work “Heirlooms and Accessories” featured an image of a double Indiana lynching in the 1930s. It included three white women. To symbolize women’s roles as murder accessories, Marshall made cameos of the faces of women. This work of art shows how racism is passed down through generations as family heirlooms.

Dees stated that part of the work was to remove the focus from the victims of violence and shine a light upon the perpetrators.

Warnings are given for certain parts of the exhibit due to their graphic content.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by emotion, there are areas in the museum where you can take a break and unwind.

She said, “There are a lot of our past that is painful.”

Dees stresses that this exhibition was years in making and not in response to 2020’s racial demonstrations.

She said, “That just underscores how histories of racial aggression have been such an important part of our nation’s history and of our art history.”

The exhibition opens amid a national debate about how Americans should talk about race in schools.

Alvin Tillery, director of the Center for the Study of Diversity & Democracy (Norwich University), stated that “We have an active authority movement where at minimum one of the major parties are working to erase America’s racial past with book bans or anti-critical race theoretic discourse.”

Tillery stated that exhibitions such as this are crucial.

He said, “It’s impossible to erase these images that show the painful truth about America’s race relations with anti-Black violence.” It’s meaningful.

Dees hopes that this exhibition will inspire people to act on racial inequalities of the present, which are rooted in history.

“When enacting changes, we need to think beyond the type of laws and policies that are being used. We also need to consider how you can connect with people’s hearts. She said that art is one way to connect with hearts or minds.