Hall of fame defensive end turned first black member of the Minnesota Supreme Court Alan Page and his wife, Diane Sims Page, opened the “TESTIFY: Americana from Slavery to Today” exhibit last week at the Minneapolis Central Library in time for Black History Month.
With 100 artifacts, the collection includes an “iron collar that kept slaves in bondage, a branding iron that marked human beings as someone’s property, a photograph of black babies captioned as ‘alligator bait’ and a fine china plate with gold lettering that says, ‘KKK ‘God Give Us Men,’” according to The Associated Press.
Page had an illustrious career taking down quarterbacks as a member of the Minnesota Vikings' famed Purple People Eaters defense.
After his football career, he went into law and served on the high court for 22 years before retiring in 2015 at age 70. He wants to educate the about the true horror of slavery and segregation.
“These items represent facts,” he told The AP. “Not somebody’s opinion about what happened. Not somebody’s view about what did or didn’t occur, but actual facts… They help me understand where we are today. The disparities in education, our criminal justice system. For me, the message I get is that we haven’t come to grips with the discrimination that comes, that came with those facts. We haven’t addressed the present effects of that past history, the present effects of that past discrimination.”
Taking advantage of the recent Super Bowl, the Pages wanted to host the exhibit now so that they could reach more people. Many of the artifacts featured have been collected by the couple for years and, at one time, some filled Alan's Supreme Court chambers.
“We hope the exhibit will challenge people by seeing what took place in the past and challenge them in ways that will cause them to think about taking action, not only to prevent them from happening again but to end the effects of that past, the effects that still linger today,” he said.
“TESTIFY: Americana from Slavery to Today” ends today, Feb. 6.