PHIL-OSOPHY: Art’s Connection to Slavery
We like to think of New Bedford and New England as an abolitionist area, and it was. But that conversation also has a flip side that a lot of locals are having to face. Some of our whaling masters engaged in the slave trade. Well-known names in our area's history have connections to profiting from participating in the slave industry.
We see, from landmarks to elementary schools, the renaming of buildings is taking place because their namesakes were 18th century slave owners. This change comes as part of a conversation about how America portrays and memorializes--or doesn't--its history of slavery.
Now that conversation has moved into the art world.
Rather than take down works of art, curators at the Worcester Art Museum have installed signs that tell visitors which people in early American portraits, or the actual artist, owned enslaved people or profited from slavery.
This is a rational compromise. We've learned and changed from our past history. Applause, applause to the Worcester Art Museum!
Stay tuned, folks. In another development along the same lines and ahead of the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims landing in Plymouth, voters and the editors of the Daily Hampshire Gazette are adding their disgust for the Commonwealth's official state seal they say demeans our original citizens, because a saber is being waved over the head of a Native American.
Should the swinging sword be erased or leave it? Film at 11.
Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.