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

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Service Seeks Reconciliation Over 1916 Lynching

Hundreds gathered in a small town church in Abbeville, South Carolina, known as the the birthplace of the Confederacy. Descendants of Anthony Crawford and descendants of his lynchers joined in a service of apology, forgiveness and reconciliation for that lynching and other racial injustices that took place there nearly a century ago.

 

Why the Zimmerman Jury Failed Us

Harvard professor Lawrence Bobo explains how the Zimmerman verdict reflects the racism at America’s core – leading to the continual dehumanization of blacks. When cultural racism is this deeply embedded in America’s basic cultural toolkit, it need not be named or even consciously embraced to work its ill effects.

 

Unsung Veterans of the Voting Rights Struggle (Part 1: Bernard Lafayette)

This exhibit has video

Bernard Lafayette is one of the founding fathers of the Voting Rights Act. He was part of a small interracial army of men and women who presented their bodies as living sacrifices for the Act. Some lost their friends, their families, their minds — even their lives. But 50 years after their greatest triumph, their struggle is in danger of being lost.

 
Harps on porch 1919

Inheriting Home: The Skeletons in Pa’s Closet

With its store of family memories, Arkansas defines home for me. But embracing and claiming it as my own is prickly business. “Home” has closets of skeletons that are anything but comforting: the Lost Cause, Jim Crow, the Ku Klux Klan, lynchings.

 
Running Black Man Target

Hateful Speech

An exhibit is comprised of the personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity, and shouting that ABHM receives in the Comments sections of exhibits.