Standing in line to see what we thought would be a small piece of the city’s “history of agitation,” was above all a great decision. The massive increase in social awareness, protests, and political hashtags in the last few years makes it an eerily perfect time for the “Activist New York” exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. If ‘the city that never sleeps’ is truly the melting pot, this captures a lot of its ingredients, the diversity of which may surprise you.
Projected images, artifacts and glossy photographs profiled the deep roots of people on both sides of the rights of humans, neighborhoods, and the environment from the 17th century to present. Digital touchscreen stations also showcased information about nonprofits with activist missions around the city.
Did you know New York helped keep slavery and Jim Crow in the US alive? Have you ever seen the “Gay Bob” doll from the aftermath of the Stonewall Riots? Why was the South Bronx almost demolished? What do the Netherlands have to do with Jewish people in New York? Why did Harlem riot? Left wing, right wing, immigration, communism, women’s rights, worker’s rights, “the other 99%,” even bicycle advocacy—there’s nothing this city hasn’t spoken up about.
Said well by the partnering Puffin Foundation’s Indypendent Review, “the exhibition ends at Park51, with vitriolic anti-Islam flyers reminding us that beneath the facade, ours is a city of open wounds.” There may not have been the likes of social media mavens such as Ruddy Roye, the “Instagram Activist,” but judging from the issues of this century and the work of today’s generations, we already have enough to fill up a whole new exhibit.
The Museum Mile Festival 2015 may be over, but “Activist New York” is ongoing!