1879 Magazine Cover Sparks 2016 Apology

A misguided highlighting of the world's first illustrated weekly news magazine.

Re: Catalogue cover, Into the Heart of AfricaOn 2014-10-22, at 12:31 PM, Murray Whyte wrote:

The Illustrated London News was the world’s first illustrated weekly news magazine. It was founded in 1842 and ceased publication in 2003.

On the Sept. 6, 1879 issue cover, Lord Beresford’s “Encounter With a Zulu” was depicted. Beresford is shown on horseback, plunging a sword into an opponent on foot.

The black-and-white cover was front and center in a 1989 exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum of Canada (ROM) in Toronto, and now, 27 years later, the efforts of the Coalition for the Truth About Africa, an organization formed in reaction to the event, have produced an apology from the institution. From a report by Canadian Press:

At a ROM event Wednesday evening, the museum’s deputy director of collections and research expressed “deep regret” for the exhibit and its impact on black Canadians.

Mark Engstrom said the exhibit inadvertently “perpetuated an atmosphere of racism and the effect of the exhibition itself was racist.”

Further exacerbating the upside-message at the time of the initial ROM exhibit was the effect of seeing the show title, “Into the Heart of Africa,” emblazoned above the image of a British soldier plunging his sword into the heart of an African warrior. In contrast to today’s lightning-fast social-media-age reaction times, the protest against the November 1989 exhibit was small initially and only grew the following spring.

Pictured: Museum exhibit program cover, as curated at the time by Jeanne Cannizzo