The Cotton Museum
A letter in your March 14th issue came to the dubious conclusion that the city should "destroy" the Cotton Museum. While we disagree wholeheartedly with the conclusion, we would also like to point out some errors in the author's premises.
First, though we appreciate "extravagant balls" as much as the next organization, the Cotton Museum cannot take credit for the balls and parades in question. Those events are organized by Carnival Memphis, a non-affiliated organization that celebrates local industry and raises funds for area children's charities. Second, characterizing the Cotton Museum as "costly" or city-owned is entirely false. We are a private, nonprofit history museum that does not receive any funding from the city, state, or federal government. The museum's small operating budget is entirely funded by admission fees, gift shop sales, and private donations.
The Cotton Museum is dedicated to sharing the history of our city's beginning. Visitors discover how Memphis burgeoned with the growing cotton industry, and they learn about the many consequences the cotton industry had on the culture of the Mid-South. Our objective is not the "glorification" of the cotton industry but rather the documentation of its history through interpretive exhibits, educational programs, and research archives. The museum's story includes the cultural, artistic, and musical heritage that has evolved around the dynamic population of people that gathered here as Memphis became a hub of cotton commerce. Those diverse influences continue to enrich our city today. We support any measure that our citizens and government feel will make this city a stronger and more inclusive community.
With that in mind, we would like to invite our neighbors across the city to the Cotton Museum on Friday, May 10th, for the opening of "Vanilla Extract," an art installation by renowned local artist Lester Merriweather. That evening we will also be screening a controversial film by New York artist Kara Walker entitled Song of the South. We will be serving cocktails, hosting performances by local musicians, and engaging the public in a continued discussion of race relationships in Memphis. The event is free and open to the public. Before anyone endeavors to destroy the Cotton Museum, we would very much like them to visit it.
Anna Mullins, Executive Director
Change of Heart
It seems another Republican has changed his stand on gay marriage. GOP senator Rob Portman's son is gay, so, all of a sudden, he has changed his position. He used to say he opposed gay marriage because of his religious beliefs: The Methodist church does not sanction gay marriage or allow it in its churches.
The senator would now have us believe that, after reading the Bible, he has concluded we are all God's children. I can understand it's a hard thing to wrestle with, but God is very clear: Honor Me first above all things.
New Anti-abortion Laws
Anti-abortion Republicans recently passed an abortion law in Arkansas that imposes the harshest restrictions in the U.S. on women's reproductive rights. Not to be outdone, the religious anti-abortionists in North Dakota followed up a week later with an even more restrictive abortion bill.
The Tea Party/Republican activists who pushed these measures and their radical agenda into law are less interested in "saving lives" than they are in having control over women's behavior and bodies. Arkansas and North Dakota are just the latest staging areas for this vocal minority of anti-abortionists in their pursuit of an intrusive and invasive attack against women's rights.
Congratulations to Bruce VanWyngarden for so accurately summing up my frustrations with my office's annual NCAA tournament bracket pool. Without fail, the person who wins has done no research, is not a basketball fan, and filled out their bracket at the last minute on impulse. Instead of "March Madness," it should be called America's annual basketball crapshoot. And, yes, I'm going down to defeat again this year. Screw you, Harvard. Bite me, Wichita State.