By Nicole Lopez
By Nicole Lopez
St. Louis – For a country that values free speech, it is shockingly difficult to organize an event including Palestinian voices. It is even more appalling when a history museum is the organization excluding these voices.
Today, Thursday March 19, a unique event was set to take place at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. The panel discussion, entitled Ferguson to Ayotzinapa to Palestine: Solidarity and Collaborative Action, aimed to bring together people from various social movements in order to have a discourse on where they might parallel each other or even overlap. AltaVoz, the group hosting and moderating the event, had planned to include Organization for Black Struggle (OBS), Stl Latinos en Axion, and St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee on the panel.
However, a mere 48 hours before the event was set to take place, the museum called with an ultimatum: remove the Palestinians from the panel or find a new location to host the event.
This came as a shock to the students, community members, and activists who had been planning the event for months and had been in communication with the MO History Museum since February 1st. According to Deren Pulley, event organizer and member of the group AltaVoz, the museum had known about the inclusion of Palestinian voices before agreeing to be the venue for the panel.
“It has been very clear since February 23rd that St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee was going to be on the panel. Between February 23rd and March 4th, the history museum reviewed and approved our title, our event description, and our flier, all of which very explicitly include Palestine as a topic of discussion. As early as March 4, the history museum even posted all of this information on their website,” stated Pulley, a senior at Washington University in St. Louis.
The event organizers have declined to undermine the entire purpose of the panel by removing Palestinian panelists, and will be standing in solidarity in front of the Missouri History Museum (Lindell side) starting at 6:30 pm tonight, when the panel was set to take place. At 7pm, the panelists will give statements of solidarity on behalf of their respective groups and reflect on the deliberate silencing of voices in a public forum.
Event organizers have also started a social media campaign decrying the history museum’s choice to promote #SelectiveHistory by excluding certain voices. To join the conversation, get on Twitter to tweet your thoughts to @mohistorymuseum using the hashtag #SelectiveHistory.
Historians should know more than anybody that history is written by the winners. By silencing certain voices, the museum is essentially erasing those perspectives from the historical record. I thought a history museum would know better than this.