Harsh Critique - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1899070

Harsh Critique

Tom Edmonds, the director of the Southampton History Museum, and I have been close friends since we were struggling artists together in the 1980s. He has always been an advocate of Black and Native American artists and promoted their work. I believe anyone who knows him would attest to his good intentions, his good heart and his commitment to racial justice. I have always admired his achievements and valued his friendship.

I share the concern of the NAACP that a lecture about “The Clansman,” advertised with a photo of the Klan, especially during Black History Month, confused the anti-racist narrative that Tom and the museum wanted to advance, even though it presented a strongly anti-racist critique meant to illustrate how white supremacy took root in our culture. It is important that the NAACP illuminated those contradictions [“Local History Museums Suspend Executive Directors, Pledge More Diversity, After Featuring KKK-Related Content During Black History Month,” 27east.com, February 19].

Still, I was troubled by the harshness of the critique that was implicitly directed against Tom. As the NAACP highlighted, we are in a crucial moment where all of us must unite to fight the threats that white supremacists and authoritarians pose to racial justice, as they do to democracy, free expression and historical truth.

Given those dangerous threats, I am glad the NAACP is willing to work with Tom and the Southampton History Museum to expose the central role that Black Americans occupy in the American story.

Gene Fellner

Jersey City, New Jersey