The tour approached Toussaint Louverture, the leader of the first slave revolt. The actor was frozen but suddenly his eyes opened and the figure came alive.
“Freedom to live, freedom to work, freedom to die!” Toussaint Louverture shouted out as the tour began.
Last night at 7 in Heritage Hall, NAACP and the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. hosted the Living Black Wax Museum: A Future Undefined. During the intermission, the dance organization Ambitions performed.
The Living Black Wax Museum consisted of 13 actors and actresses dressed as black historical figures that remained motionless until a tour group passed then they told their stories. The tour group traveled chronologically from the time period of the first successful slave revolution to the modern day. The tour started with Toussaint Louverture and ended with President Barack Obama. .
“Each [actor] emphases the impact their character had that allowed each generation to advance the race,” co-program chair Diag Davenport said.
With calm music playing in the background, the tour group walked from each actor’s post listening as tour guides provided information of how each historical figure was linked and seeing the clothing of the actors changing from fluffy collars to Roaring 20s attire to suits with ties. The historical figures ranged from Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman to Booker T. Washington to poet Maya Angelou.
The theme was chosen to trace the meaningful way blacks advanced in the United State’s history, Davenport (senior-economics and business management) said. Each historical figure, well known or not, set the stage for the next generation to advance the black culture, Davenport said.
“[It is about] where we came from and why we made it this far,” co-program chair Keisha Odunze said.
The historical figures are not just important to black history but also impacted the United States’ history as a whole, Davenport said.
“If we didn’t have people like this in our history, there is no telling where we would be as a country,” Davenport said.
Started in 2010, the first Living Black Wax Museum was inspired by the Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore, Odunze (senior-bio behavioral health) said. The intention was to have an actual wax museum, Davenport said.
The event is a history lesson but “a wholesome one. A story,” Davenport said.
“I feel like that diversity here at Penn State is not good,” attendee and NAACP member Shantell Jennings said.
Jennings (senior-hotel, restaurant institutional management) said it is important to learn other culture’s histories and the wax museum provides that opportunity.
Hoping to learn history she does not know, attendee Nikki Gandy (senior-agribusiness management) said the living wax museum gives a chance to show others a different culture.