PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Walking into the exhibit, “From Slavery to Freedom,” some visitors may be overwhelmed by the reproduction of a slave ship.

“As people come through, they will see two slave figures on the ship. A male and a female. And they will hear people in distress, people who were traumatized by their experience,” Samuel Black said.

Black is the director of African-American programs at the Heinz History Center. He said the design is not about creating a scary place.

“I wanted to make sure that people would be able to walk away with new understanding, new knowledge of this history,” Black said.

The exhibit takes visitors through the slave experience and the impact of slavery on the economy of America.

“As people move out of the slave ship area, they would come to an area that talks about the slave economy. And what we’ve done is identify just a couple of the major crops that were developed in the plantation system,” Black said.

Besides the crops, tools used to create products as well as tools used in oppression are on display.

“A lot of times, people look at slavery as labor, but slavery is also the exploitation of technology, Black said.

Freedom and escape is shown, but the term fugitive slave is not used.

“Because we want people to see things from the African-American perspective. African-Americans didn’t identify themselves as fugitive slaves. They were seeking freedom,” Black said.

Black, who worked on developing and presenting the exhibit, believes in it.

“I really wanted to show respect to my African ancestry,” Black said.


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