Many times, historical cities have the ability to re-invent themselves.
From honoring the events and incidents that gave it the name “Bombingham,” to building and expanding its visibility in 3-D movie theaters, fashion, and importing the world to its doors, Birmingham, Alabama continues to prove that it is a city worth looking forward to explore.
Entering into the museum on January 17, 2016 in the early evening came with walking through a wedding party. The sparkling gowns, grand piano, and the overall decors, making it clear to visitors that a happy couple was about to make their dream come true. A cake in all its simplicity could speak un-measurable words. Politely cutting through a quarter of the wedding party and invited guests, was met with a spiral staircase; leading you to explore measures at the museum’s expense.
Simplistic enchantment was all it took for visiting guests to be captured by ancient wonders. And in one of the few places that many would expect–Birmingham, Alabama. Asia. Africa. North America. The Caribbean. Cultural colors, aesthetics, and traces of the feminine Spirit were presented to viewers. Experiencing humanity, in its myriad forms, the designs, shapes, colors, and sensory of the human spirit. And it was all captured in a city that knows what it fully means to channel culture and the beauty of humanity’s essence.
Beautiful, beaded corsets from the Dinka people of South Sudan were reminders that South Sudan will live. A nation, facing transition, and the challenge to revive its humanity. Who defeated slavery, genocide, in their quest for human rights–sort of like African-American/Black American people in the U.S.; and particularly, Birmingham. Porcelain pots and jade sculptures from Japan and China. Crafts depicting the stories, her/history of nations, who have stood the test of time. Who, too have had to overcome (and some would say, are still trying overcome, in the case of China) painful chapters of WWII, unspeakable atrocities, and even hinting to testimonies of Asian communities to the United States of America.
Making way to a sacred “chamber,” showcasing Haitian wall hangings; and a video, giving honor to the significance of vodoun, reminiscent of African, spiritual traditions. For they too had a shared story with the herstory of Birmingham, Alabama. A culture of people, who took freedom, and made it their own.
West Africa was also made visible, and they were understood as reminders for the stolen ones, that they have a history connecting them to Mother Africa; carried over to the Americas to create a culture of Blackness.
And of course the Native people of the land’s words were spoken. It was said, and it was done. For they were the reason for the birth of this land, and for the beginning, in nourishing this Earth.
Leaving the museum, left for many questions. . .the type that simply cannot be answered with words. The kind that must be felt, letting us know that time was an illusion.