Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History

“Genealogy”

The Wright Museum of African American History, Rotunda Room– Detroit, MI
Terrazzo floor design

When visitors enter the majestic Ford Freedom Rotunda, their eyes and hearts are drawn to a large, 72 feet diameter mural in the circular floor. Titled Genealogy, Detroit artist Hubert Massey created this impressive work. Genealogy was produced using terrazzo, the flooring material made of marble chips and cement, which is poured into a matrix, then buffed and polished.

Massey’s design was inspired by the struggle of African Americans for freedom, education, economic empowerment and social equality. Figures in the artwork symbolize various aspects of the struggle. The central and largest figure represents the Supreme Being and the importance of spirituality in strengthening African Americans. To the right, an African woman kneels beside a body representing young slaves who died during the Middle Passage. An African American woman on the left embraces a body that symbolizes the loss of lives to violence in the United States. To the right of the central figure is an outline map of Africa, balanced on the left by an outline of the United States. These depict the connected spirit and culture of Africans and African Americans. On the lower left and right are two figures. One clutches a book, symbolizing hunger for knowledge, and the other’s arm is outstretched seeking upward mobility.

 

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