A set of shackles and an original issue of a "Green Book" are just two of the impactful items that will be passed around when the New Haven Museum hosts Jeffrey Fletcher and objects from his powerful collection, "Images of America." The collection is comprised of artifacts and memorabilia reflecting the African American experience, with items and images from periods of slavery, the Jim Crow era and the civil-rights movement. Items on view will include a notorious Ku Klux Klan hood and robe, and, in counterbalance, a flight jacket and photos from the famed Tuskegee Airmen.
The purpose of the presentation and the showcasing of items from the collection, says Fletcher, is to share the uncomfortable but powerful story of segregation and pain in order to encourage dialogue about America's controversial past instead of attempting to ignore the racism that remains present in society.
The artifacts and images of the exhibit help to explain how the debilitating effects of slavery and its legacy of institutional racism continue to impact America. "Many of these pieces have only been read about in history books or seen in movies," says Fletcher. "They deliver a very powerful message." He adds that there is an urgency to beginning a dialog about this troubling history so that stereotypes and myths can be dispelled.
Fletcher contends that though the artifacts and images may be difficult to view, they are a part of African American history that needs to be told as much as the triumphs of African American pioneers and trailblazers.