In observance of both Black History Month and the city’s reckoning with the racist policies and practices of its past, ReflectSpace has produced a multimedia series that, in multiple episodes, examines those ills and how they have impacted Glendale.
The six-episode series — titled “Reckoning: Racism & Resistance in Glendale” — is available for free on the ReflectSpace website and includes audio presentations of the topics and documentation of various news coverage and other stories that describe the historical racism of Glendale. Interactive maps and 360-degree photos allow viewers to pick, for example, different neighborhoods to learn more details.
The live exhibit comes after city officials prepared a report on Glendale’s historical reputation as a “sundown town,” which through housing covenants largely barred Black people and other minorities from property ownership in the city. Glendale was hostile in other ways, as well, to the Black community — the city was a popular rally spot for Ku Klux Klan groups and more recently housed offices for Nazi-affiliated and other white supremacist groups.
In September, the city adopted its so-called “Sundown Town Resolution” to acknowledge and apologize for the past transgressions against Black people and other minorities. The moment is part of a nationwide dialogue on racism and social equity that was spurred by the killing of George Floyd while he was being arrested in Minneapolis.
Glendale “became the first city in California and the third in the nation, to pass a sundown town resolution based on a review and report of available historic documents to identify and understand Glendale’s history,” the opening statement in the exhibit reads. “Sundown towns kept African Americans and other people of color from living in certain communities through formal and informal methods in a purposeful effort to maintain a white population.”
In creating this exhibit, ReflectSpace — a gallery at Glendale Central Library designed to explore and address human and civil rights issues and atrocities — said it aims to provide “a historical and contemporary narrative to accompany this critical moment.” The project interviews both scholars and activists in its quest to bring the history to our computer screens.
“Rather than providing a comprehensive history of systemic racism and anti-Blackness, ‘Reckoning’ is designed to be a tool for discovery and further research in the work towards an anti-racist future,” ReflectSpace says.
The exhibit will eventually migrate away from those computer screens. Local artist and educator April Bey will produce a citywide art installation for the project. The city will collaborate with the Glendale Unified School District to engage with students on the topic. There will be a virtual exhibition of contemporary works by Black artists, and there also will be a “celebration” of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Reckoning” was produced for the city’s ReflectSpace gallery by the Brand Library and Art Center, and it was curated by Shannon Currie Holmes, Ara Oshagan and Anahid Oshagan. Research and materials for the exhibit come by way of documents from Glendale Library system as well as contributions from, among other sources, the Los Angeles Times, Southern California News Group, UCLA and Cal State Northridge.
To view the exhibit, visit reflectspace.org/reckoning.
Reckoning: Racism & Resistance in Glendale
Episode 1: All-American City (available now)
Episode 2: Ku Klux Klan in Glendale (available now)
Episode 3: Nazis in Glendale (available Feb. 15)
Episode 4: Modern White Supremacy (available Feb. 22)
Episode 5: Get Out of Town (available March 1)
Episode 6: Be the Change (available March 8)