The Blank Slate Movement Comes to Alabama!
Interactive sculpture makes its debut during April 12 Unveiling Ceremony at the Civil Rights Memorial Center
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Civil Rights Memorial Center (CRMC), a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), unveiled the Blank Slate Monument, created by Ghanaian artist Kwame Akoto-Bamfo, to the Alabama community earlier today.
“The Civil Rights Memorial Center is honored to bring the Blank Slate Monument to Alabama and specifically Montgomery – a city critical to the civil rights movement and a city continuing to respond to injustices of today,” said Tafeni English, CRMC director. “This monument serves as a reminder of the continued struggle for the liberation of Black people and the importance of preserving the truthful, rich history of Black Americans. Blank Slate also offers a unique opportunity to challenge the 175 Confederate memorials sitting in public spaces here in our state.”
Blank Slate: A Hope for a New America is the first exhibit to be featured in the newly renovated CRMC, which reopened its doors in January 2022 after temporarily closing due to the ongoing pandemic. During its three-month stay, the longest period at any one location, the monument is a nod to the museum’s focus on connecting past and present civil rights movements.
An interactive statue that contests the problematic, false narratives Confederate memorials promote, Blank Slate challenges viewers to seek a deeper understanding of the Black experience before, during, and after the American Civil War (1861-1865). The statue’s interactive component brings the community into the conversation, allowing Wi-Fi users to express their thoughts on social justice by posting their own messages on the “blank slate.” Morris Sinclair, a Blank Slate representative, provided a live demonstration to attendees during today’s unveiling ceremony.
“From inception, the Blank Slate Monument and her Palimpsest movement through the U.S. was inspired by the data that the Southern Poverty Law Center spent years creating and fact-checking,” said artist Kwame Akoto-Bamfo.
Earlier this year, the SPLC released the third edition of its Whose Heritage? report, data, and map, which tracks public symbols of the Confederacy across the United States. The report shows that more than 2,000 Confederate memorials are still publicly present in the U.S. and 723 of those are monuments. These dehumanizing symbols of pain and oppression continue to serve as backdrops to government buildings and halls of justice, and are prominently placed inside of and around schools, public parks, counties, cities, and military property.
“For the Blank Slate Monument to have the opportunity to join forces with the SPLC to confront America's commitment to the Confederacy is one of our greatest achievements so far. It will take longer than our lifetimes to achieve our goal, but together we will repair this country once and for all,” said Akoto-Bamfo.
The Blank Slate Monument will be featured at the Civil Rights Memorial Center through July 5, 2022.