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“Engine of Racism” art exhibit to open at interfaith church


Bonnie B. Mettler’s “Engine of Racism,” depicting key persons and events in the Black struggle for freedom and equality, will be on view at Pebble Hill Interfaith Church in Doylestown on Sundays from 1-3 p.m. from July 16 through Aug. 13.

Mettler will speak at the 10:30 a.m. service July 16. Pebble Hill Church is at 320 Edison Furlong Road.

Mettler said, “I didn’t realize how racially ignorant I was until, at 54, I learned of Emmett Till’s murder. Late in life, I set off on a road to discover how racism came to be. Along the journey I realized racism was like an engine, built by greed in colonial times, maintained over 400 years, and it drives us still.

“I am determined to have the conversations, in paint and in person concerning racism in America. The Confederacy lost the war and their grip on slavery. They should not be allowed to win the nation’s collective silence about racism.”

Each painting has an accompanying note describing its significance in the 400-year struggle. Mettler labels Jefferson’s Monticello “Forced Labor Camp.”

The caption reads: “Jefferson allowed his overseer to beat the enslaved boys (10-16 years old) who labored in his nail factory if they were late or failed to meet their quotas. At 37 he wrote that “All men are created equal” yet he owned 600 slaves during his lifetime–more than any other President.

“Leslie Alexander and Michele Alexander wrote in ‘The 1619 Project’ that Jefferson was acutely aware that Black people yearned for freedom no less than the White colonists who had waged the American Revolution and that no principle of justice could defend slavery. Jefferson wrote, ‘I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.’”

Mettler’s “The Bacon Rebellion” illustrates an uprising of landless European and African settlers in which the color line was first drawn: the Africans received harsher punishment.

Among other paintings of significant events, places and portraits are “Redlining” and “Black Wall Street,” the prosperous Black district of Tulsa, Okla., that was razed by a white mob, killing some 300 Black residents.

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