Saturday, September 19, 2020

Ivy Tech presents living wax exhibit of African American leaders


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EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Decked out in outfits inspired by prominent black leaders, Ivy Tech Community College students and staff portrayed historical figures for the school’s first African American History Month Live Wax Museum. 

On Monday, participants stood beside condensed biographies of leaders such as Jackie Robinson, Angela Davis and others as community members inside the Bower-Suhrheinrich Visual Arts Center walked through the live exhibit to interact with them.

The purpose of the program, Ivy Tech Diversity Lead Wendy Chinn said, was to directly educate students and the community on black history. 

“We said that this was a history lesson, so that’s what it is,” Chinn said. “We wanted to send out that message. And even though we weren’t afforded the opportunity to learn about it in high school or in the school system, we wanted to create an opportunity for (them) to come and learn about it from us.”

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Among her many roles, Chinn works hands-on with student organizations My Sister’s Keeper and My Brother’s Keeper, the two groups who coordinated Monday’s event. 

Chinn said the two organizations were the driving force behind the development and successful execution of the program.

Shereneka Bolton, president of My Sister’s Keeper, said she was shocked to see the number of community members present at the program.

“I was very surprised, I really was,” she said. “When I turned around and saw that we had people standing on the back wall and everything, I really thought that was inspirational.” 

The idea behind the live exhibit was first established late last year, Chinn said, with plans being made in December. Once all the student leaders selected which historical figures they wanted to portray, they were tasked with doing research ahead of the program.

“They got a history lesson of their own,” Chinn said. “It gave them a little knowledge behind why our ancestors have done what they have done, and how hard that process was.

“It gave them a little encouragement to see them do those things as well.”

Bolton said the two groups wanted to showcase the contributions of leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and others, while also highlighting figures who aren’t as well-known to the public.

“Students wanted to make sure they pulled out people that a lot of people didn’t know about, instead of giving them the typical leaders,” Bolton said. “We wanted to make sure we pulled out other people who had an impact on African American culture.” 

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Chinn said the efforts of the two student organizations made for a great turnout and a solid opportunity for students and community members to get a deeper look into black history. 

With the success of this program, Bolton said both organizations will look to continue providing educational opportunities for students on campus and to open them up further to the Evansville community at large. 

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