Sacramento’s California Museum Opens Unity Center
Chris Narloch, Outword Magazine
Aug. 24, 2017
If ever there was a perfect time to open a center promoting unity in the community, this is it. After the horrific recent violence in Charlottesville, and with racial politics at a boiling point around the country, the brand new Unity Center opening on Saturday, August 26th inside Sacramento’s California Museum could not be more essential.
With Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim, antiMexican, and anti-LGBT politics emboldening bigots all across the land, the hope is that a Unity Center will inspire visitors to take a stand against bigotry, as Unity Activists. The new, long-term exhibition has in fact been in the works for more than 15 years — long before President Trump entered the political arena — and was initiated in response to a series of Northern California hate crimes by a pair of white supremacists during the 1999 “Summer of Hate.”
A long-term installation that includes a 4,000-sq. ft. gallery and adjoining classroom, the Unity Center is intended to celebrate our state’s civil rights history and diverse people, customs & cultures by creating a permanent commitment to fight hate and intolerance.
Among topics covered in the exhibition are many current issues facing Californians and Americans today, including hate crimes, racial profiling and religious freedom, immigration, civil rights, equality and gender identity.
In the Facing Assumptions exhibit, for example, visitors are immersed in conversations between members of marginalized groups including African Americans, Latino immigrants and transgender individuals, who share deeply personal experiences facing common stereotypes and misconceptions.
In another section titled Courage to Act, visitors explore animated situations and recognize the bystander’s role in standing up to harassment and bullying.
The core of the Unity Center offers examples of past and present Californians who have successfully stood up for their rights and for the rights of others using a variety of tools, from artistic expression to peaceful civil disobedience.
On Saturday, August 26th, the Museum will host the Unity Center Block Party to commemorate the Unity Center’s opening through a daylong celebration of unity and diversity.
Highlights include free admission for all visitors from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; a civil rights panel with Dolores Huerta, Stuart Milk of the Harvey Milk Foundation and California State Sen. Holly Mitchell (D, 30th) moderated by CNN’s Lisa Ling from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.; and an address by Mayor Darrell Steinberg at 12:00 p.m.
Additional festivities at the Unity Center Block Party include free light rail transportation; hands-on activities for kids; dance and music performances by a wide variety of cultural organizations; food trucks; a beer garden; and more activities designed to promote unity in the community.
For more information on the Unity Center exhibition and the Unity Center Block Party, visit www.californiamuseum.org/unity