Artist Welcomes Debate Over Controversial Exhibit

Local News

The Black Lives Matter group out of Memphis protested a new art exhibit at the National Civil Rights Museum, calling it “offensive.”

The exhibit is called “Kin Killin Kin. It includes 14 pieces of artwork showing black gang members in Klan hoods carrying out acts of violence.

“It’s disturbing, the honesty. It’s emotional,” said Lynn Barratt who drive in from Canada to see the exhibit.

 “I think I just read the blurb and thought, wow. I have to go. I have to see it,” said Barratt.

The creator of the exhibit James Pate of Dayton, Ohio says he wanted to draw a parallel between the civil rights movement and the unprecedented amount of black on black crime in this country.

“We’re just hearing repeatedly people in my community say that we as black people have put the Ku Klux Klan out of business, so as an artist I decided to respond to that,” said Pate. 

However, his bold message didn’t come without controversy. Leaders of the Black Lives Matter Memphis say they want the art exhibit removed.

“Rather than lift up the voices of those that have been taken by violence within our community, it actually silences them because it’s making a horrific comparison,” said Black Lives Matter member Jayanni Webster.

About 20 protesters stood with signs outside of the museum with signs. While they say the exhibit is thought provoking, it certainly isn’t accurate.

“What happened to our ancestors when the KKK terrorized them is not the same what is happening in our community and we also believe poverty is one of the main reasons why you see crimes  of desperation and other things that happen in the black community,” said Webster. 

Pate says he welcomes the debate.

“In actuality, we’re fighting the same fight. I’m just approaching it a little differently,” said Pate.

The Kin Killin Kin exhibit will be on display at the National Civil Rights Museum until April 29th.

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