A Message of Community Solidarity

Dear Friends,

At this particularly anxious time of civil unrest, we join and wish to amplify our national museum leaders’ and local leaders’ statements: Lonnie Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; Paul Edmonson, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation; Mayor Allen Joines, Winston-Salem.

For centuries, the people of the Piedmont region of North Carolina–indigenous and foreign-born, Black and white, Moravian and non-Moravian, have experienced periods of great turmoil and unrest. The political views held by Salem’s residents spanned the ideological spectrum during settlement, the American Revolution, the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movement, which continues to this day with the Black Lives Matter Movement. As stewards of Old Salem Museums & Gardens, we are often presented with complicated histories and opposing memories and are responsible for bringing these histories and memories together to share authentic, fully inclusive narratives.

During periods of social and political upheaval, we believe that honestly looking to the past can center us, contextualize the complexities of the contemporary world, and help us all to be better people. As one of the stewards of our community’s history, we have a heavy responsibility to be an open source of information and support as our nation works together to build an informed path forward towards racial justice and equality. We have a commitment to research and explore diverse and important stories from Salem’s history, including the stories of free and enslaved people of African descent through our Hidden Town Project, the stories of indigenous peoples who experienced settler colonization and removal through our Cherokee Advisory Committee, and the lives of the Moravian settlers.

Old Salem is dedicated to providing a safe, equitable, and thoughtful place for everyone. We are here to help facilitate conversations, provide context, and support, however we can, to people in our community who are hurting, and have been hurting for days, months, years, generations. We want to be a place where the community can come together and learn from our shared history in order to inform a more just and compassionate future.

With Great Respect,

Franklin Vagnone
President & CEO
Old Salem Museums & Gardens/
Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts