The Traverse Area District Library (TADL) in collaboration with the Dennos Museum Center, and Interlochen Center for the Arts (ICA) have been selected to serve as a community host for the Great Michigan Read traveling exhibit, We Don’t Want Them, during the month of March.
Focusing on race and housing in metropolitan Detroit, We Don’t Want Them examines the realities African Americans faced from 1900 to the present. A prominent feature of the exhibit is the Ossian Sweet trials which is documented in this year’s Great Michigan Read selection, “Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age” by Kevin Boyle. “Arc of Justice” is the true story of Dr. Ossian Sweet, an African American physician, and the events that followed after he purchased a home in an all-white Detroit neighborhood in 1925. Through reproductions of historic documents and photographs, viewers of We Don’t Want Them will learn about the causes and effects of residential segregation.
In addition to hosting the exhibit, each organization will offer supporting programs ranging from concerts and presentations to a community book discussion and a film screening designed to stimulate discussion concerning the themes of discrimination as well as tolerance and acceptance which are represented in both the exhibit and book selection.
Sharing resources to bring the exhibit to the community seemed like a natural fit for the three organizations.
“Rather than applying for the exhibit as three single organizations and competing for the opportunity, we decided to combine our efforts in hosting the exhibit in order to offer a variety of complementary programming,” said Diana Bolander, curator of education and interpretation at the Dennos Museum Center.
Sandra Besselsen, director of the Bonisteel Library at Interlochen Center for the Arts added that serving as joint hosts offers the community a greater opportunity to make a personal connection with the history surrounding race relations and discrimination.
We Don’t Want Them is part of the Great Michigan Read, which is presented by the Michigan Humanities Council with support from Meijer and the National Endowment for the Humanities. This exhibit was produced in partnership with the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. The exhibit first visited Flint in October and will travel through June with additional stops in Saginaw, Dundee and Big Rapids.
The Great Michigan Read is a free, statewide humanities initiative inviting Michigan residents to read and participate in book discussions and events in their hometowns. The Great Michigan Read is presented by the Michigan Humanities Council with support from Meijer and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit your community library to check out a copy of “Arc of Justice” and additional reader support materials.