“Separate Is Not Equal”

Consul General Chris Rowan explaining the U.S. education segregation map with Mr. Kagiso Pilane, a representative from the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela Tribal Authority
Consul General Chris Rowan explaining the U.S. education segregation map with Mr. Kagiso Pilane, a representative from the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela Tribal Authority

The exhibition brings forth the parallels between the South African Apartheid laws and the American Jim Crow laws and their psychological effects on the oppressed

The longtime debate of whether separate facilities could truly be equal was the topic of conversation on March 18 at Mphabatho Cultural Museum in Moruleng.  Several members of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela tribal authority, community leaders, district education officials and school principals, launched, along with Consul General Christopher Rowan, the “Separate Is Not Equal” exhibition, underlining the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision which determined that racially segregated schools were unconstitutional. The legal case, known as “Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas,” is one of the most widely known and significant judgments in the U.S. Supreme Court’s history, and its impact on American society and racial equality is hard to overstate. It overturned institutionally-sanctioned racism and inspired America’s civil rights leaders, who used its momentum to push for an end to many other forms of racial discrimination. The exhibition brings forth the parallels between the South African Apartheid laws and the American Jim Crow laws and their psychological effects on the oppressed.

Guests explore the exhibition
Guests explore the exhibition

The museum which was recently renovated, aims at educating the youth in the community and beyond on the norms, values and traditions of Bakgatla people, illustrating their past as a way of preserving their indigenous culture. The museum operates under the notion that, “to know where you are going, you need to understand where you come from.” The exhibition blends well with their objective of educating the community in an effort to build a progressive society.

The exhibition was originally put together and displayed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of History in 2004 to mark the 50thAnniversary of the famous Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court ruling on May 17, 1954. It was brought to South Africa in 2005, re-designed and contextually edited for South African audiences by the Apartheid Museum with financial support from the United States Government. To date, the exhibition has been displayed in seven other location in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Free State Provinces.

The exhibition will be on display until May 23 at Mphebatho Cultural Museum in Moruleng.