Unidentified African American soldier in Union uniform with wife and two daughters (Library of Congress via Smithsonian)
Unidentified African American soldier in Union uniform with wife and two daughters (Library of Congress via Smithsonian)

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will debut a new exhibition Friday that explores the often overlooked era of Reconstruction.

“Make Good the Promises: Reconstruction and Its Legacies,” which features more than 175 objects, 300 images and 14 media programs, will be on display through Aug.  21, according to the D.C. museum.

The exhibition also includes a companion book of activities in celebration of the museum’s fifth anniversary.

“Reconstruction was a pivotal moment in American history when the nation had an opportunity to make amends for the injustices of slavery and rebuild itself on a new foundation of racial equality,” said Kevin Young, museum director. “While some gains were made, this was also a period of voter suppression, racially motivated violence and unlawful incarceration. These are the legacies of Reconstruction explored in this important exhibition. Because of the work left unfinished by Reconstruction and the decades of discrimination that followed, the struggle for equality and justice continues in society today.”

Highlights of the exhibit include a church pew, desk and chair used in the U.S. House of Representatives during Reconstruction, Freedman’s Savings Bank letter written by Frederick Douglass, and the hooded sweatshirt Trayvon Martin was wearing when he was fatally shot.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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