Nooses lined the ceiling in the Ward Hall basement, depicting the oppression once prevalent in the United States.
The Tunnel of Oppression, hosted by the Housing and Residence Life’s Harmony Project, spent months creating this exhibit to show “the type of oppression you don’t learn about in grade school,” said Taggart and Pickell Hall Director Emma Mentley.
The exhibit began by defining the word “oppression.”
“Prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control [or] unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power,” read a poster on the wall.
Oppression comes in all different social groups, ethnicities, beliefs and cultures as the exhibit portrayed. The Tunnel of Oppression explained the following: Native Americans being stripped from their homes, people hung for false “witch” accusations, Japanese Americans forced into concentration camps, hatred against homosexuals and African Americans, girls forced into marriage, the lack of women’s rights and slavery.
Slavery was rampant in the 1800s, but the problem has not gone away.
“Worldwide, it’s estimated that there are 20 to 30 million people in slavery right now,” a poster read. “That number is higher than any other point in history. The U.S. State Department estimates that there are 17,500 people brought into the U.S. every year as slaves.”
The exhibit displayed a large poster of Alana Thompson, the reality child star from the TLC series, “Here comes Honey Boo Boo.” This portion presented facts about poverty and read “What you’re laughing at is a lower social class,” in relation to the television series.
“I’m happy that Ferris is so open with things like that because there are a lot of places where you don’t get to see this information. They don’t want to talk about it because they might be embarrassed or they don’t want to upset people,” said Ferris junior respiratory care major Dominique White. “But unless you know your history, it’s doomed to repeat itself.”
The Tunnel of Oppression is a part of the MLK celebration. The Housing and Residence Life’s Harmony Project will have another exhibit in the spring on “What does it mean to be American?”
The Tunnel of Oppression began Monday and will be open Wednesday, January 22, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the basement of Ward Hall.
“I hope that patrons of the exhibit will leave with a greater compassion of oppression in United States history as well as inspiration to stand up against oppression in the future,” Mentley said.