SUSLA holds trove of African artifacts
Inside Southern University Shreveport's Metro Campus you'll find a jewel of African art and artifacts. It's a prideful part of the school's museum, but budget issues may make it a little harder for you to tour. Curator Carolyn Coatney says much of the collection comes from West Africa, and several of the pieces are masks used during festivals or that mark personal moments of the Africans who created them.
"In Africa, there are a lot festivities," Coatney said as she gave a tour of tribal items like masks or drums. "The naming of a baby, a girl becomes of age, a guy becomes of age, there's a marriage, the planting of a crop.... The harvesting of a crop. That's why you see all the drums. They're rhythm pounders. Over there, you're going to see lots and lots of masks that are used during the festivities."
The museum also has items to remind you of a dark time in American history. Coatney pointed out slave shackles and letters between slave owners. Such important artifacts are a little harder to see. Staff at the museum has dwindled down to just Coatney due to budget cuts. She says hours of operation have also been cut.
"We were ordinarily open five days a week and now we're down to three days a week," Coatney said. "We are flexible in that we can, by appointment only, do other tours."
While the museum offers African Americans a great place learn about their ancestors' culture, Coatney says everyone, from every culture, is more than welcome to tour.
"The more people that I interact with that are non-African American and find out the similarities we have in common more than differences," Coatney said. "that's one of the things I like about this museum. It allows African Americans and non-African Americans to learn about this culture and vise versa."
Coatney says much of the collection was donated by Southern's former president Leon Tarver.
Copyright 2013 KTBS. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.