An Incomplete History of Protest

Solo en Inglès

“I make revolutionary art to propel history forward. I’m a visual artist.”
—Dread Scott

Hear directly from artists including Dread Scott, and Senga Nengudi as they discuss their work in An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017. Listen to additional commentary from curators on selected highlights from the exhibition.

Dread Scott: I'm Dread Scott, I make revolutionary art to propel history forward. I'm a visual artist.

A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday is an artwork that refers to and really visually references a flag that the NAACP used to fly from their national headquarters. They flew the flag starting in 1920 and kept it up until 1938, every day, the day after somebody was lynched and it was part of their anti-lynching campaign.

When Walter Scott was killed in South Carolina, I said I had to respond really quickly. So I very, very quickly did the design for this, which said “a man was lynched by police yesterday.” Just adding two simple words. 

A lot of my work looks at how the past not only sets the stage for the present, but how it resides in the present in new form. Black parents talk with their children about how to survive an encounter with the police. Yes, lynching is gone we don't have crowds of white onlookers smiling before a Black body on fire as a Kodak moment, but you have video of cops shooting down John Crawford in a store holding a gun that was sold in the store. What does it mean for kids to be growing up and have their parents tell them make sure your hands are in sight—or don't make sure your hand are in sight. Run—or don't run, and effectively saying, “I can't protect you. There's nothing I can do to stop this, and this is the country you live in.”

Dread Scott (b. 1965), A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday, 2015 (installation view, Whitney Museum of American Art). Nylon, 84 1/2 x 52 1/2 x 1/8 in. (214.6 x 133.4 x 0.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Director’s Discretionary Fund T.2017.262. © Dread Scott. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photograph by Ron Amstutz