Exhibit highlights African American history, social change

Elizabeth Stoeger, Staff Writer

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Two movements, one hundred years apart, both indelibly shaped American history and are remembered in the new exhibit now on display in Nicholson library.

This exhibit “Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963” is presented by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Museum of American history in collaboration with the American Library Association Public Programs Office. It is also made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts.

It highlights these two “moments in our nation’s history when individuals unite and take courageous steps to fulfill the promise of democracy,” reads to the first panel of the exhibit.

“Both events were the result of people demanding justice. Both grew out of decades of bold actions, resistance, organization and vision. And both provided inspiration for the future.”

February celebrates Black History Month and this display highlights the admirable and often times trying struggle of African Americans in the United States.

The exhibit is designed as panels separated into two groups. One cluster is focused on events having to do with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and the other surrounding the March on Washington which took place in 1963.

“The Emancipation Proclamation cracked open the institution of slavery, changing the course of the Civil War and the nation,” states the first panel on the 1863 side.

Some of the events highlighted include Nat Turner’s Rebellion, Lincoln’s death, and the impact and legacy of the Emancipation Proclamation.

One of the most important and recognizable movements in U.S. history, the March on Washington occurred on August 28, 1963, as “work in the nation’s capital came to a halt as thousands of demonstrators made their way to Washington. The events that day helped mark the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation and reminded Americans of the nation’s long pursuit to fulfill its founding principles of liberty and equality for all,” exclaims the panel.

This grouping focuses on the unparalleled number of protests that occurred in the summer of 1963, leaders and planning of the March, and its legacy.

President of Linfield’s Black Student Union, Sarah-Michael Gaston, ’16, said of viewing the posters on the March, “I was so proud. I was proud of them for coming together and fighting for justice. It made me realize how many people attended the march and just how brave and strong my people can be.”

“African American history has been predominately excluded from my education growing up. Even though people of African descent were crucial in shaping America’s past and present, the discourse I hear in school revolves around White America.”
Seeing this exhibition reminded Gaston of her people’s past as well as “why I still face inequality” in the present, she said.

Not only does the exhibit hold personal value for Gaston but she is glad the entire community has the opportunity to learn more about this topic. “Spotlighting African American history is important because it is American history and too-often the contributions of African Americans to this country have been ignored,” Gaston said.

Linfield will continue to pay tribute to the African American visionaries who shaped the nation with two lectures.

Clayborne Carson, professor of history at Stanford University will present “Martin’s Dream: My Journey and the Journey of Martin Luther King, Jr.” on Mar. 3, at 7:30 p.m.

Waldo Martin, professor of American history and citizenship at University of California, Berkeley will present “Ready for the Revolution: History and the Black Panther Party” on Mar. 10 at 7:30 p.m. These lectures will both take place at Nicholson Library.

The “Changing America” exhibition will be on display until March 25 at Nicholson library.