For The Love Of Money: Blacks On U.S. Currency Exhibition At The Museum Of American Finance – Press Conference – February 22, 2016
Museum Of UnCut Funk Curators attended the official opening of the For The Love Of Money: Blacks On U.S. Currency Exhibition and Press Conference at the Museum Of American Finance on Wall Street in NYC.
Curator Pamela Thomas (aka Sista ToFunky) spoke with Roger Clark of NY1 and did two live segments to promote the exhibition.
You can see a short video posted by NY1 on the exhibition here:
Curator Loreen Williamson spoke to the press about what the For The Love Of Money exhibition means to her and why it is historically important.
You can see the video of the press conference below.
You can read the text of Curator Williamson’s remarks below:
My name is Loreen Williamson. Pamela Thomas and I are the founders and co-curators of the Museum Of UnCut Funk, the first and only virtual museum that celebrates 1970’s Black culture, the decade that we grew up in and love.
Our museum also showcases our unique collection of Black culture artifacts, many that feature beautiful, positive images of Black people and are travelling to museums and cultural institutions around the country.
Which is what brings us to the Museum Of American Finance today for the official opening of our newest exhibition, For The Love Of Money: Blacks On U.S. Currency.
Pamela and I would like to thank the Museum Of American Finance for hosting our exhibition and all of you for coming.
I am going to speak for a few minutes about what this exhibition means to me, and why it is important.
All of our exhibitions are personal. They display our favorite things. Cool, unique objects that we collected because we loved them. We thought that others would love and appreciate them as well. So we decided to curate our collection into travelling exhibitions. In the process of doing the research for the exhibitions we discovered new and fascinating aspects of our history.
I had no idea that there were Black people on US currency until Pamela found the Booker T Washington silver half dollar. I was shocked to find that there were so many beautiful, brilliant, resilient, consequential and powerful Black people on US currency and that their accomplishments had been honored through congressional legislation, signed into law by the sitting president of the United States.
To be featured on commemorative currency is one of the nation’s highest honors. To be featured on a commemorative bronze medal means you have been awarded a Congressional Gold medal, one of our nations highest civilian honors.
For The Love Of Money celebrates the Black icons, seminal historic events and institutions whose significant contributions to American and Black history have been recognized by law through commemoration on United States currency in the form of commemorative coins, medals and medallions. Anti-slavery tokens and concept coins featuring Black images and the new Presidential medals honoring President Barack Obama are also included in the exhibition.
These 41 objects represent indelible milestones in our centuries-long struggle to achieve equality in this country. Our first 246 years as slaves. Our next 90 years of struggle through Reconstruction and Jim Crow. Our 14 year movement for Civil Rights.
Bringing us to the 1970’s, our favorite decade and the first where we could began to enjoy equal rights under the law. Followed by almost 50 years of progress, leading to the election and re-election of the first Black President of the United States.
The history commemorated by these objects reminds us that our story has been filled with triumphs followed by setbacks, joys followed by heartbreaks. But along the way we have continued to break barriers and achieve historic firsts.
These objects remind us that a brave Black Patriot was the first to die in the Revolutionary War, of the significant contributions in WWII of the Tuskegee Airmen and Montford Point Marines that led to the desegregation of the armed forces, the First Black Flying Fighter Ace and Civil Air Patrol Officer, and that we have served the military in the roles of the First Black Secretary Of State, First Black Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff, and First Black Commander In Chief.
These objects remind us that brilliant Black men rose Up From Slavery to advise Presidents.
That exceptional Black athletes broke the color barrier at home and defeated white supremacy on the world stage, carrying the hopes and dreams of their entire race on their shoulders, staring down racism with dignity while dominating their respective sports.
That strong Black women sparked the Montgomery bus boycott, and worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help move the March On Washington and Civil Rights Movement forward.
That determined Black youth sat in, rode, marched and refused to be permanently turned around.
That nine Black high school students endured a year of vicious hatred and racism to attend Little Rock Central High School under the protection of the national guard.
That a renowned Black opera singer graced the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and performed at the White House at the invitation of the First Lady and the President.
That transcendent Black Jazz musicians changed the world with their tremendous gifts.
That one Black man inspired a diverse coalition with his historic run for the presidency and inclusive vision of hope.
That with all we have accomplished in spite of the tremendous obstacles we have faced, in the post Obama era we still have work to do to realize the full return on the investment of blood and sacrifice by all those who came before us.
We are reminded that in a time when some want to diminish and re-write key aspects of Black history, the history and positive representations captured in commemorative legislation and currency are invaluable artifacts that help to accurately present and archive the Black experience in the United States.
These objects are tangible, permanent and through this exhibition accessible. That is why these objects and this exhibition are important.
The US Government provided one of earliest and only forms of public recognition of Black excellence, contribution and value. Given that some of the most popular representations of Black people in the 1940’s were Blackfaced actors in minstrel shows, the positive and dignified portraits featured on the 1946 Booker T. Washington and 1951 George Washington Carver / Booker T. Washington Silver Half Dollars, which were the first positive representations of free Black people on commemorative currency, were revolutionary.
In their 1970’s hit For The Love Of Money, the inspiration for the name of the exhibition, the O’Jays preach about the evils of money. I think the whole Slavery through Jim Crow era delivered the evil. The O’Jays also encourage people to do good things with money. The recognition of our contributions for the betterment of American society on commemorative currency is a good thing.
One verse in the song says “For a small piece of paper it carries a lot of weight.” In a capitalist society it absolutely does, and for this reason I am excited about the current plan to feature Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Marian Anderson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the first free Black people on paper currency in 2020.
This exhibition, being hosted on Wall Street, brings us full circle. Slaves were bought and sold on this street. They generated significant wealth for their Slave masters. They built Wall Street. Some are buried not to far from here at the African Burial Ground site. Slaves were featured on Confederate money. Now slaves and descendants of slaves are being honored on Wall Street, the center of financial universe, on US currency. That is powerful.
Finally, the fact that first Black President is recognized in this exhibition brings everything full circle as well. Barack Obama is the Jackie Robinson of my generation. It is hard to put into words for someone who loves Black history and always thinks about what it must have been like to be alive during a certain time to witness a certain aspect of history to actually witness something I never thought I would see in my lifetime, in my lifetime. To have coins and medals that he signed into law and his Presidential medals in this exhibition brings it all together for me and is very powerful.
This exhibition is a celebration and positive expression of our experience.
Thank you again for coming to celebrating our unique take on Black history with us.
Exhibition Press Release
You can read the press release below:
Museum of American Finance Opens New Exhibit: “For the Love of Money: Blacks on US Currency”
February 3, 2017
New York, NY – In honor of Black History Month, the Museum of American Finance has opened “For the Love of Money: Blacks on US Currency,” a traveling exhibit on loan from the Museum of UnCut Funk.
To be featured on currency is among the nation’s highest honors. The Treasury’s latest redesign – which will feature Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill beginning in 2020 – will acknowledge for the first time on paper money the contributions of Black and women’s rights activists in advancing American democracy. There is a longer tradition of honoring such leaders through the creation of commemorative coins, medals and medallions. Through legislation, Congress has chosen to honor on US commemorative currency Black icons, seminal historic events and institutions which have significantly influenced American and Black history.
“For the Love of Money” honors barrier breaking Black athletes, entertainers, civil rights leaders, military leaders and politicians, and it features the historic contributions of several prominent Black women. The exhibit showcases more than 40 anti-slavery tokens, commemorative coins, concept coins, commemorative bronze medals, Presidential bronze medals and commemorative medallions representing American and Black history milestones that have contributed to the betterment of the United States. Additional coins and medals will be added to the exhibit as they are released in 2017.
More information can be found at www.moaf.org/fortheloveofmoney. This exhibit will be on view through January 2018.
About the Museum of American Finance
The Museum of American Finance, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is the nation’s only independent museum dedicated to preserving, exhibiting and teaching about American finance and financial history. With its extensive collection of financial documents and objects, its seminars and educational programming, its publication and oral history program, the Museum portrays the breadth and richness of American financial history, achievement and practices. The Museum is located at 48 Wall Street, on the corner of William Street, and is open Tues–Sat, 10 am – 4 pm. For more information, visit www.moaf.org or connect with the Museum on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @FinanceMuseum.
About the Museum of UnCut Funk
The Museum of UnCut Funk is the first and only virtual museum that celebrates 1970’s Black Culture and pays homage to the contributions and legacies of Black icons who made this decade so funky. The museum also features an extensive collection of 1970’s Black culture artifacts, which includes Animation Art and Collectibles, Broadway Window Cards, Coins, Comic Books, Movie Posters, Stamps and Sports items that incorporate Black images. The exhibitions deliver unique cultural experiences that teach Black history in a fun and uplifting way and have been seen by over 150,000 people to date. For more information, visit www.museumofuncutfunk.com or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.
Kristin Aguilera, Deputy Director
Museum of American Finance
Loreen Williamson, Co-Curator
Museum of UnCut Funk
Exhibition And Press Conference Pictures
Photographer Credit: Alan Barnett
Press Coverage To Date
Museum Of American Finance – Financial History Magazine, Winter 2017 Issue
For The Love Of Money: Blacks On US Currency made the front cover of the Museum Of American Finance Magazine! Check it out!
Additional Press Coverage:
- Coin Week – http://www.coinweek.com/education/museums-exhibits/museum-of-american-finance-opens-new-exhibit-for-the-love-of-money-blacks-on-us-currency/
- Coins Weekly – http://www.coinsweekly.com/en/News/MoAF-opens-exhibition-on-Blacks-on-US-Currency/4?&id=4627
- Liz Daly’s Culture Digest – http://www.lizdalyculturedigest.com/2017/03/black-history-in-us-currency/
- Manhattan Times – http://www.manhattantimesnews.com/money-loveamor-al-dinero/
- New York History Blog – http://newyorkhistoryblog.org/2017/02/22/blacks-on-us-currency-exhibit-at-museum-of-american-finance/
- The Undefeated – https://theundefeated.com/features/lady-liberty-is-a-black-woman-and-joe-louis-jackie-robinson-and-jesse-owens-get-commemorated-in-coin-too/?ex_cid=tutwitter
- Untapped Cities – http://untappedcities.com/2017/02/27/12-art-installations-and-exhibits-in-nyc-not-to-miss-march-2017/
- Welcome To Harlem – https://welcometoharlem.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/for-the-love-of-money-blacks-on-us-currency/
- Yahoo Finance – http://finance.yahoo.com/news/museum-american-finance-open-exhibit-135900006.html