Museum of London: A family-friendly history lesson

2 Apr


I wish I was sleepy and not WIDE awake…

Welp. Since the time difference is wreaking havoc on my sleep patterns day one, I might as well be productive and talk a bit about the day.  We immediately got off of the plane and into explorations.  The students (and faculty) were exhausted by the end day as evident by a few off color comments I’ll share later.

The Museum of London was our first stop.  I must say, this is an ideal location for the entire family.  There are interactive exhibits all throughout the museum, tactile and digital, as well as many short movies that sum up important moments in London’s history.  Most impressive to me was the prominence of noted Black Britons through history: Olaudah Equiano (Spelman College inaugural ADW class represent!), and other noted Blacks from the Victorian era to present day.  There was also a section dedicated to the Black population in London with images and signage like the ones below showing the emergence of a strong Black voice in London around the same time as the US Black Power Movement in the late 1960s early 1970s.

Overall, this museum is a good way to go through the rich history of the city in a one-stop shop that is entertaining for all ages.  Even my students found themselves caught up in the activities and films throughout the place!

We had a group dinner at a pizza restaurant nearby St. Paul’s Cathedral (I know, I know).  At this dinner it became more apparent how tired folks were becoming.  We were having an interesting conversation about the artifacts in the British Museum and whether or not the UK should be obligated to return these items (see my London Retrospective for a refresher on some of these images).  In this conversation, we debated how secure these artifacts would be in places like Syria in midst of conflict and the comment was made about how some countries just would have a difficult time knowing what to do with them if they were returned.  To which a male traveler notes “Yeah, because since the aliens built the pyramids those people don’t know what to do with them now.”  While that whole section of the table erupted into laughter, I tried REAL hard not to pull out my best Auntie Maxine:

My actual face

I immediately shut down.  Why must the brilliance of the Black mind always be a point of issue?  Why is it that there has to be some inexplicable phenomenon that rationalizes away our greatness?  The fact that even in jest (to them not me), aliens building the pyramids is more plausible than African people, has me giving old buddy a HARD side eye (fortunately, it was NOT one of my students).  Day one, dude? REALLY?!  My response?  Intellectually tactical:  I will be documenting through photos and these posts this week, every single piece of evidence of the beautiful Black mind while I’m here.  My fellow BAfH folks, do you have photos you would like to share of #BlackFolkMagic in London?  Put them in the comments!  Tower of London tomorrow (if I can ever get to sleep)…..

Images of books printed and released in London in the 1960s

Olaudah Equiano and Ignatius Sancho (I need to look him up)

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