NOW – Free At Last?

By the 1980s, Black America came to another roadblock in the long struggle to full equality.

After the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, there were many more black college graduates, professionals, and business people than before. Many of them believed they would soon reach the American Dream.

Working-class blacks, however, faced a very different reality. Factory jobs left the inner cities and the industrial South. This led to high black unemployment. The dreams that had brought many black people North during the Great Migration were quickly dying.

White flight to well-funded suburban schools broke the back of school desegregation ordered by the Supreme Court.

Police brutality led to black unrest and rebellion in several cities. The most well-known occurred in Los Angeles in 1992 after the Rodney King beating.

The War on Drugs began to require harsher sentences for drug offenses. These have been applied most often to African Americans.

The number of blacks in prison has soared over the last thirty years, even when crime rates are at historic lows. Recent “justifiable homicides” of blacks by non-blacks have again raised questions about racial equality before the law. This situation is being called the “New Jim Crow.”

Still, the advances of African Americans in all fields – and the election of our first black president – give some reason to hope.

 

Exhibits

The morning sun paints the Washington Monument red as it skims the top of the National Museum of African American History and Culture - NMAAHC  in Washington, DC.  The new museum opened to the public September 24, 2016.  When viewed from particular angles, the two structures fit together like puzzle pieces.
(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

After 100 Years Of Challenges, The 1st Nat’l Black History Museum Is Here

 By Rahel Gebreyes, Huffington Post Black Voices “Nothing has been easy. Everything has had to be earned.” Black history is finally taking its rightful place within the Smithsonian Institution with the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s grand opening on Saturday. While the museum is now opening to considerable fanfare ― the ceremony includes a three-day festival and a dedication led by President Barack Obama to mark the historic occasion ― getting the project off the ground was anything but easy. A group of black Civil War veterans first advocated for the idea of a national African-American history museum in the early 1900s. Decades later, a group of congressmen led by civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) took the fight for the museum to Capitol Hill. Lewis introduced legislation to fund the museum every year for 15 years, but it was defeated every time. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said the museum faced plenty of challenges, from “overt bigotry” to “lack of prioritization.” “In many ways, it itself is reminiscent or reflective of the African-American experience. Nothing has been easy. Everything has had to be earned,” he said.   Some representatives who opposed the museum said the project was too costly. Others, like Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), warned the museum would set a dangerous precedent and open the floodgates for additional museums dedicated to other racial minorities. “Every other minority will give thought to asking the taxpayers to pony up for a special museum for them,” Helms said in 1994. In […]

 
A man believed to be the son of Nearis Green sits at the right hand of Jack Daniel (center, in white hat). This photo, in Daniel’s old office,was taken at his distillery in Tennessee in the late 1800s.

Jack Daniel’s Embraces a Hidden Ingredient: Help From a Slave

On its 150th anniversary, the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, home to one of the world’s best-selling whiskeys, has begun telling a new story. Daniel, the company now says, learned distilling from an enslaved black man, Nearis Green.

 
Chicago Defender page

By Us, For Us: The Crucial Role of the Black Press

This exhibit gives a short history of the black press, some of the important journalist involved, and the vital role it has played in advancing the ideals of American democracy and supporting African American identity and culture.

 
LA prisoners NewOrleansTimesPicayune

War on Drugs – or War on Blacks?

The War on Drugs that began in the 1980s has led to an explosive mass incarceration of African Americans. This exhibit examines how and why.

 
RaceLogoFace

“Race” – The History of a Persistent Myth

For more than 400 years, the economic, social, and political behavior of Americans has been shaped by ideas about “races” and racial differences. Where did these powerful ideas come from – and are they true? How have your ideas about racial differences been affected?

 
A sign in Detroit, Michigan, where a race riot took place in 1943.

Sundown Towns: Racial Segregation Past and Present

A sundown town is a community that for decades kept non-whites from living in it and was thus “all-white” on purpose. Sundown towns are rare in the South but common in the rest of the country. Learn why sundown cities, towns, suburbs, and neighborhoods developed–and how they continue to shape the lives and relationships of black and white Americans today.

 
EJI video explains how racial injustice persists since slavery

Why Racial Injustice Persists Today: A Very Brief Video History

The myth of racial difference that was created to sustain slavery persists today. Slavery did not end in 1865, it evolved. This very brief video reveals how we got from slavery to today’s forms of racial injustice, such as mass incarceration.

 
I'm holding hands with Virginia Huston, a descendant of Elmer Jackson. She was the first representative of the lynching victims to be at the memorial.

Shaking the Family Tree: My Journey of Recovery, Repair and Renovation

School teacher Warren Read never suspected that the beloved great-grandfather he had put on a pedestal had actively taken part in murdering three young African Americans in Duluth, MN in 1920. His discovery of the truth shook him and sent him on a journey to rebalance his world.

 
Jan Buchler, who recently retired as the director of a community-based organization, served as a facilitator of one of the diverse dialog groups at the 100th Birthday Celebration for Dr. James Cameron: A Gathering for Racial Repair and Reconciliation. (James Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The 2014 Gathering for Racial Repair and Reconciliation – Live!

A video series of presentations by scholars and activists at ABHM’s 2014 Gathering for Racial Repair and Reconciliation.

 
If you are reaching toward repair and reconciliation, click on the golden links within the captions under the logos of the groups below to connect and learn more.

Racial Repair and Reconciliation: How Can We Achieve Them?

The exhibit provides an overview of the topic through text and videos. It samples processes for repair and reconciliation in use around the country, along with links to books, videos, and websites for deeper understanding and action.