Empathy center of Footsteps To You exhibit on chattel slavery

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In partnership with the Black Voice Foundation, the San Bernardino County Museum presents the exhibit Footsteps to You: Chattel Slavery. The exhibit brings together a collection of documents and artifacts that were bequeathed to the Foundation by the estate of historian Jerry Gore in 2016. The exhibit opens on Nov. 1 and runs through Apr. 1.

Slaveowner’s tax receipt.

Jerry Gore’s lifelong goal was to expose the horrors of slavery so that visitors to his hometown of Maysville, Kentucky could appreciate the daily perils experienced by enslaved people as well as the strength it required to fight for their freedom. This exhibit presents the unique artifacts collected by Gore in his effort to build historical empathy, a means of achieving a deeper understanding of the lived experiences of people from the past. First-person accounts, newspaper articles, and original objects of the slave trade serve to put the viewer in the shoes of those that were subjected to this treatment.

According to Hardy Brown, chairman of the Black Voice Foundation, “Footsteps to You immerses the visitor in a world where people were considered objects – a prejudice that was entirely based on the color of one’s skin. Visitors will learn that these injustices not only affected those who were actively oppressed, but that slavery’s lingering effects have haunted people even decades after it was abolished. Visitors are challenged to ask themselves ‘What side of history would I have been on?'”

Jennifer Dickerson, Curator of History, said “this exhibit challenges the visitor to view history, not from the traditional perspective of the culture holding power, but from the perspective of the individuals who were oppressed. Those voices resonate profoundly in these objects.”

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The Black Voice Foundation originally connected with Jerry Gore through their “Footsteps to Freedom” tour. Since 1996, the Foundation has hosted over 2,000 educators on the Footsteps to Freedom, Underground Railroad Tour where they have walked the steps of past enslaved freedom seekers. These tours strive to build historical empathy amongst participants by learning first-hand about the incredible courage of the people who sought freedom or who helped others achieve it along one of the central routes of the Underground Railroad, Kentucky to Canada.

The San Bernardino County Museum is at 2024 Orange Tree Lane, at the California Street exit from Interstate 10 in Redlands. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $10 (adult), $8 (military or senior), $7 (student), and $5 (child aged 5 to 12). Children under five and Museum Association members are admitted free. Parking is free. For more information, visit http://www.sbcounty.gov/museum. The museum is accessible to persons with disabilities.

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