Ancient Africa Enslavement and Civil War Museum

The Ancient Africa Enslavement and Civil War Museum in Selma, Dallas County, focuses on and interprets African American history from ancient Africa to the twenty-first century. It particularly emphasizes the experience of enslaved Africans and the impact of slavery on the United States to memorialize those events and to educate future generations.

Ancient Africa, Enslavement, and Civil War Museum The museum was established in 1998. Its exhibits include areas dedicated to African societies before the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade in the fifteenth century with a special emphasis on ancient Egypt. The museum also focuses on the experiences of enslaved Africans in the European slave trade, detailing the deadly Middle Passage with interactive displays depicting the conditions that enslaved people endured before, during, and after the passage from Africa to colonial America. This section includes a slave cabin, holding cells, and an auction block, as well as a timeline that recounts the history of slavery in the Americas. It also contains exhibits focusing on African American participation in the Civil War and the effects of emancipation, detailing the violent history of white supremacy in the Jim Crow South. The museum ends its tour of African American history with a perspective piece on current events, called “The New KKK: Kids Killing Kids,” that condemns twenty-first century oppression of African Americans.

Museum displays also celebrate those individuals who opposed and continue to oppose the systemic oppression of African Americans in its Hall of Resistance. Inductees include anti-apartheid activist and South African politician Winnie Mandela, former president of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Black Power advocate Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), and pioneer in Africana studies John Henrik Clarke. The museum holds annual inductions as part of the Selma Jubilee Bridge Crossing to commemorate the events of March 7, 1965, known as “Bloody Sunday.” The museum holds a yearly Maafa/Juneteenth Celebration to remember those enslaved individuals who died during captivity and to celebrate the day that emancipation was announced in Texas on June 19, 1865; this date is now celebrated nationally to mark the end of slavery in the United States. Maafa is the Kiswahili word for “disaster” that has come to be used since the 1980s to describe the totality of the experience and effects of African slavery on Africa, Africans, and African Americans. It is used much like the way the term “holocaust” is used to describe the experience of European Jews under Nazi oppression prior to and during World War II.

The museum is affiliated with the nearby National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, which collects, exhibits, interprets, and documents images and artifacts related to the history of Selma, the American voting rights struggle, and the civil rights movement. The museum is run by director R. Abayomi Goodall and staffed primarily with volunteers. It is located on 1410 Water Avenue and is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and by appointment on Sunday. There is an admission fee.

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