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Visiting the Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello: Paradox of Liberty exhibition

Paradox of Liberty is currently on view at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, March 15 – June 22

Detroit is latest American city to host the updated touring exhibition, exploring the legacies of slavery and the lives of the enslaved and their descendants at Monticello through 300-plus objects, works of art, documents and artifacts unearthed at the storied plantation

After record-breaking attendance at the African American History Museum in Dallas, Texas, the next stop for Monticello’s traveling exhibition, Paradox of Liberty, is the iconic Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

This exhibition began as a partnership between Monticello and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington, D.C. Described as “groundbreaking” in the Washington Post, the exhibition centers the lives of enslaved people, including the families of Edward and Jane Gillette; George and Ursula Granger; Elizabeth Hemings and her children, including Sally Hemings; David and Isabel Hern; and James and Cate Hubbard. More than 300 archaeologically-recovered artifacts elucidate the lives of six enslaved families, making for a visually rich, powerful presentation. Using material from the Getting Word Oral History Project, the exhibition follows the families through Emancipation into the present.

After opening in Washington D.C., the exhibition embarked on a successful four-venue tour between 2012 and 2015. It attracted a wide, diverse audience, estimated at more than 1.2 million visitors in Washington, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Philadelphia.

“Our sweeping American story, wonderful and woeful as it is, leaves out too many people who have been denied and disregarded, folks who should be returned to our national narrative.  This exhibition breathes life into those forgotten individuals, restoring to them their humanity and their place in history,” said Gayle Jessup White, Monticello’s community engagement officer and a Hemings family and Jefferson descendant.

We’re grateful for the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and our museum partners for making this exhibition possible. Paradox was on display at the African American Museum in Dallas, Texas through January 21, 2019 where it attracted over 82,000 visitors, making it the most well-attended exhibit in the museum’s 44-year history.

Future sites include the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia in Richmond.

Media Contact: Jennifer A. Lyon, 434-984-7696

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