WPAMC Statement on the Murder of George Floyd

As graduate students in the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture at the University of Delaware, we mourn the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, David McAtee, George Floyd, and countless others whose murders at the hands of white supremacists and law enforcement continue a history of fatal violence against Black people in the United States. We stand with their families, friends, and communities who demand justice and an end to white supremacy and police brutality in our country and throughout the world. 


We express our support for and commitment to our Black colleagues, classmates, visitors, and staff at the Winterthur Museum and the University of Delaware. We recognize that the fields of public history, historic preservation, decorative arts, and museums claim a long history of anti-Blackness, and that it is our responsibility to add our voices to those who have already asserted their commitments to resisting white supremacy and other systems of oppression in our fields.


In an effort to support our Black classmates, colleagues, and community members we will: 

  • Continue to educate ourselves, our families, friends, and visitors on the history of racism in America
  • Continue to mine Winterthur’s vast collections of archives, objects, and architecture for the histories of Black Americans, and to strive toward more inclusive interpretation strategies at the museum
  • Commit to building relationships with scholars and students of color at the University of Delaware and elsewhere, whether through invited lectures, research colloquia, student-led conferences, or visits on our many field studies
  • Commit to building relationships with the larger Wilmington community, whether by volunteering, partnerships with local museums and historic sites, public history initiatives, or continued visits on our many field studies
  • Push for continued official and unofficial anti-racism training and education opportunities for WPAMC students and alumni
  • Commit to amplifying the missions and messages of museums and historic sites who focus on histories of race-based slavery, struggles for civil rights, and the many achievements of Black Americans throughout history


We also express our support for the many protestors throughout the country who have taken to the streets to demand justice, advocate for Black lives, and resist long histories of white supremacy and racist police violence in the United States. We support those engaging in peaceful protest and acts of civil disobedience, and similarly support those assisting from the sidelines by providing legal aid, food, water, medical assistance, masks, and safe shelter to protestors exercising their constitutional right to dissent. We condemn the efforts of local and state police departments and other state forces who have repeatedly instigated violence against protestors, civilians, and the free press. We are mobilizing donations for Wilmington, Delaware’s chapter of Food Not Bombs for bail and mutual aid funds. If you are able, please donate here.  


As scholars of material culture, we know that objects, spaces, and places enrich our understanding of the past and the present. Recent graffiti and property damage on sites and artifacts representing our country’s racist past remind us that the material and historical record is not neutral. We commit to telling full, diverse stories of the objects and places we study. Additionally, we hope to amplify some of the many museum and public history projects, including the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive, the Punkah Project, Fashioning the Self in Slavery and Freedom, Not Your Momma’s History, the Slave Dwelling Project, the Colored Conventions Project, the Hidden Town Project, and Truths of The Trade, that continue to educate scholars, students, and the wider public on the many ways in which Black people have shaped our material world. 


We have the ability and the responsibility to utilize our knowledge of the past in the service of a more just and equitable future. We call upon members of our museum, university, and alumni communities to join us in these commitments and in our incontrovertible declaration that Black lives matter. 



Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, classes of 2020 and 2021


*We have compiled a resource packet for distribution that includes links to mutual aid and bail funds, voter registration, Black-owned businesses in Delaware, museum and public history projects focused on African American material culture, and free educational resources for those interested in learning more about the histories of white supremacy and police brutality in the United States. You can access our document here.* 

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