This panel conversation uses the Yale University Art Gallery exhibition Reckoning with The Incident: John Wilson’s Studies for a Lynching Mural as a springboard for discussing representations of lynching and other racial violence, past and present. Lynching was and remains a public spectacle meant to challenge social and economic progress among black people and other people of color and reinforce white-supremacist hierarchies. While many artists have opposed these grotesque acts of brutality using a variety of media, Wilson’s mural stands out for its size, the ephemerality of its form, and its representation of African American resistance and physical defense of their families. The panelists will discuss the role of the humanities and public art in grappling with this horrible aspect of U.S. history. Aesthetically, historically, and legally, how can we understand and confront legacies of racial terror in American life?
Panelists include W. Fitzhugh Brundage, the William Umstead Distinguished Professor, Department of History, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Crystal Feimster, Associate Professor of African American Studies, History, and American Studies, Yale University; Ken Gonzales-Day, interdisciplinary artist and the Fletcher Jones Chair in Art at Scripps College, Claremont, California; and Jonathan Kubakundimana, Program Manager, Equal Justice Initiative. The conversation is moderated by David W. Blight, Director, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, and the Sterling Professor of American History, Yale University.