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The exhibit 4HUNDRED features art that provides a visual reference of African American history. Art tells the story. Four hundred years ago, in 1619, the first 20 African slaves arrived in the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia. From then on, European settlers in North America relied on African slaves. They were seen as a cheaper, and more plentiful labor source as opposed to European indentured servants who required large wages and Native Americans that were not immune to European diseases such as smallpox. Throughout the 18th century alone, an estimated 6 to 7 million black slaves were imported to the New World, reducing the population of healthy, able-bodied men and women in the continent of Africa. When slaves were forbidden to learn to read and write by their masters, they turned to artistic expression as a new way to communicate their experiences. 

Today, in a world where African Americans are no longer enslaved, it has become increasingly important to preserve a history that is being rapidly erased, rewritten, and forgotten. African American artwork has become the perfect vessel in which to store the tales of our past and a great medium for storytelling today. 4HUNDRED offers an inside look at the pain, perseverance, and unique perspectives of Africans and African Americans throughout the last 400 years and showcases the importance of black art as a way to communicate the personal and political weight of being black in America.

Art has been a way to preserve our history and stories throughout years of oppression. 

Artwork by: Jerry Lynn, Charly Palmer, Charlotte Riley-Webb, E. Richard Clark, Georgette Baker, Aaron F. Henderson, Steve Prince, Horace Imhotep and Terry Lynn.