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TESTIFY exhibit at Minneapolis Central Library, January 8-February 6

Football Hall of Famer and former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, along with Diane Sims Page, Executive Director of the Page Education Foundation, will publicly present TESTIFY, a preview of their collection of Americana. The wide-ranging exhibit will feature art and artifacts from pivotal eras in American history while also providing a platform for visitors to share their thoughts, feelings and personal experiences.

The free exhibit will be open January 8-February 6, in Cargill Hall at Minneapolis Central Library.

Inspired by the recent resurgence of racial tension in our country, TESTIFY gives context and definition to the conversation, serving as a reminder of the history that brings us to today.

“Before reconciliation there must be truth – and the truth can be ugly,” said Justice Page. “But we cannot be reconciled and move forward if an increasingly louder group of people continue to deflect, minimize and sweep history under the rug.”

TESTIFY’S message of hope

“At a time when the past seems ever more present, the 100-plus objects in the exhibit will juxtapose artifacts from our often-painful, shared history with inspiring imagery and works of art that help us rise above it,” said Diane Page. “My hope is that by coming to grips with our past we can come together in the future.”

Objects in the exhibit include:

  • A slave collar used in Virginia in the 1820s. This brutal artifact is a sharp contrast to the irreverent depictions of slaves that soon flooded into popular culture.
  • An Abraham Lincoln funeral banner from 1865. The declaration “Our Country Shall Be One Country” greeted the funeral procession as it carried the slain president across the country.
  • Works by Carrie Mae Weems, Charles White and Clementine Hunter, which reclaim the African-American narrative and reflect a strong, specific and beautiful history of self-representation.

Be moved

The exhibit will also include a “Testification Station,” an interactive display in front of a massing of Jim Crow-era signage and memorabilia, where visitors will be invited to testify to their experiences on a judgment-free platform.

The public is invited to an opening viewing and reception, sponsored by the Friends of the Hennepin County Library, on Thursday, January 11, 7 to 8 p.m., at Minneapolis Central Library.

The exhibit was curated by the Pages in conversation with local curatorial consultants, and is presented with the support of the Friends of the Hennepin County Library, the National Football League, the Minnesota Vikings, The McKnight Foundation, the Pohlad Family Foundation, the Minneapolis Foundation and Robins Kaplan LLP.

The Diane and Alan Page Collection

The Diane and Alan Page Collection is a selection of art and artifacts that paints a portrait of race relations and representation in the 19th through 21st centuries. Gathered by Diane and Alan Page over decades of civic engagement and very personal work in their community, the collection reflects their belief that even as we face the most painful aspects of our past so that they will not be repeated, we must also find bright moments of transcendence that point another way forward. Justice Alan Page describes the significance of the collection in a recent episode of the Givens Foundation’s Black Market Reads podcast.

Alan Page addresses difficult questions

NFL Hall of Famer and former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page will present a talk titled “TESTIFY: It’s Not About the Flag or the Anthem, It’s About Justice.” The address will respond to the controversy surrounding NFL protests and will attempt to shift the focus from whether player protests are appropriate back onto the underlying issue of racial justice.

The event will be held Wednesday, January 31, 2 to 4 p.m., at Pohlad Hall, 2nd floor, Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.

Film screenings explore Page’s life story

NFL Films chronicles Alan Page’s life in “Black Star Risen,” a film produced by David Plaut. As a player, Page redefined the defensive tackle position in pro football and made the Hall of Fame – only to leave the game behind for a new career in law and education. Another film, “A Football Life: Alan Page” is a documentary about Page’s journey in sports and beyond.

Both movies will be screened in Pohlad Hall, Minneapolis Central Library on 3 consecutive days: Thursday, February 1-Saturday, February 3, 3-5 p.m.

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