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Crispus Attucks Museum opening anti-lynching exhibit

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Unmasked: The Anti-Lynching Exhibits of 1935 and Community Remembrance in Indiana is opening at the Crispus Attucks museum.

Robert Chester, The museum’s curator, says it illustrates Indiana’s connection to America’s troubling history.

Brutality, like lynchings against Black people, is often portrayed as something you’d see in the deep south, but you’ll also find pieces of it right here in Indiana. The widely known song “Strange Fruit” performed by Billie Holiday was inspired by a 1930’s lynching in Marion, Indiana. Chester says this exhibit is an about vilify anyone, but it is about education.

One of the most widely circulated pictures of a lynching happened in Marion, Indiana. Showing the deaths of Abraham Smith and Thomas Shipp.

“Most times you hear of KKK activity, lynchings, and what have you, the mind automatically goes to the deep south, but the last northern lynching in America, according to the history books, is in Marion, Indiana,” said Chester.

“The piece of photography originally circulated as a souvenir. The photography and art features in Unmasked holds another purpose,” said Chester.

“It’s important that we touch bases on this. Not in a vindictive vengeance or spiteful way, but in an educational, righteous way.”

Chester says this exhibit is a partnership with IU Bloomington and the city of Indianapolis. It shows how much America has overcome, the varying layers of resilience it’s taken to get here, and that Indiana still has a role to play in healing the masses.

“By 1925, the state of Indiana had the largest most dangerous card-carrying Klan operation in America.”

This exhibit will be shown alongside the other permanent art fixtures inside the the Crispus Attucks museum. Chester says America is at a crossroads and he hopes exhibit goers take it all in, and remembers the victims and families lost in the past.

The exhibit opens to the public next Tuesday.