Selma museum visitors can be slaves for a day
SELMA, ALA. - The Museum of Slavery and Civil Rights plans to offer a new frontier in "experiential tourism" this spring: a day as a slave. "In order to heal, we must embrace the history of slavery here in America," said Afriye We-kandodis, the museum's director.
Not everyone is so excited. George Swift steers visitors to the National Voting Rights Museum, but he's not as enthusiastic about its sister attraction.
"Some things are better left in the past," he said.
We-kandodis has designed a tour that takes visitors from Africa, through the Middle Passage, to slavery and finally to freedom.
During the tour, guests are forced to crawl through darkened passages and mount an auction block, with We-kandodis barking commands and harassment, liberally using the N-word. She divides groups against one another and separates families.
Some participants are nonchalant at first. We-kandodis recalls a young Japanese tourist who broke into a mocking hip-hop imitation before the tour began. By the end of the tour, he was apologetic and in tears.
Joann Bland, executive director of the National Voting Rights Museum, is well aware that some in Selma would rather the slavery museum go away.
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