In a neighborhood of rundown buildings and boarded up row houses, lies the whisper of a building that needs mentioning. The Great Blacks in Wax Museum, 1601 E. North Ave., is a reminder of our past. From the bowels of a slave ship, you get a sense of what an unromantic time it was, not only for slaves, but the cut throats that managed these vessels. It provides a hard look into history that cannot be ignored. The figures progress from the fields, to revolution, folklore, renaissance, civil rights to current events. The strengths and achievements of “black folks” to present day pioneers is a great education for young and old, black and white and everything in-between.
The hardest, most emotional display to visit is the lynching room. There is a warning posted prior to you descending the stairs that parental discretion is advised. For those 12 and under, a parent or guardian is required. The wax figures in this room depict very gruesome realities that were endured. Lynchings were as common as playing baseball with everyone turning out for the sport. That is why even to this day I cannot bear to listen to Billie Holliday’s song, “Strange Fruit” without those haunting pictures in my mind and sorrow in my heart.
This museum has much to offer and needs the help of the community to expand their exhibit. Automated story tellers, more space and better lighting would be a much welcome boost. Even the gift shop could use a face lift with educational books, postcards and souvenirs in general. At the end of your tour, you will be humbled, and proud of the milestones and achievements that we, as a people, have accomplished over the years.