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Our American Story

Jazz Appreciation Month: Duke Ellington

April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Often referred to as the most uniquely American style of music, and even the original American art form, jazz is inextricably linked to African American history and culture. This month, we celebrate jazz and honor its most famous practitioners, including a man called Duke.
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Collection Story

Breaking Barriers in the Sky: The First African American Flight Attendants

Black flight attendants of the mid-20th century made invaluable contributions to the pursuit of civil rights through actively challenging and subverting the narrow standards of what it meant to represent their profession during this era. Courtesy of retired Delta Air Lines stewardess Casey Grant, a collection of materials donated to the Museum including uniforms, pins, awards and certificates, photographs, and documents shed light on the African American flight attendants who persevered in the face of race and gender-based discrimination, paving the way for Black aviation professionals decades thereafter.
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Collection Story

African Americans at Work: A Photo Essay

From enslaved workers in the 19th century to agricultural, industrial, and professional workers in the 20th and 21st centuries, African Americans have always been a vital part of the American workforce. This photo essay documents African Americans at work from the 1860s to today.
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Notes on the March on Washington

On August 28, 1963, a quarter of a million people rallied on the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Traveling from cities, towns, and villages around the country by bus, car, plane, train, and on foot, they convened to find strength in a shared history, future, and purpose.
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Collection Story

Capturing Community and Creating Coalitions: Frank Espada in the 1960s

Beginning in the early 1960s, photographer Frank Espada (1930–2014) attended rallies and boycotts, snapping images of New York youth and the battles fought by them and their families.
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Our American Story

Our American Story - Juneteenth

This year marks the second anniversary since President Joe Biden named Juneteenth a federal holiday in 2021. As more Americans celebrate Juneteenth with family and community, it is vital to share the important historical legacy behind Juneteenth and recognize the long struggle to make it an officially recognized holiday. It is an opportunity to honor our country’s second Independence Day and reflect on our shared history and future.
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Collection Story

Victory at Home and Abroad: African American Army Nurses in World War II

Two women who served in the Army Nurse Corps—Lt. Louise Lomax and Maj. Della Raney—are represented in the museum’s collection via scrapbooks they compiled during the war.
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Our American Story

From Slavery to Freedom

From inventing dry-cleaning to sugar refining to the first steamboat propeller, African Americans have been active contributors to the economic, political, and social legacies of the United States. Much of U.S. history, however, is contextualized by the system of slavery that was imposed on African Americans for 250 years—and how those born under that system and in its aftermath have crafted a culture deeply rooted in resilience and looking toward the future. The transition from slavery to freedom included many roadblocks as the country confronted the question of how resources could reach newly freed African Americans.
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Freedman's Bureau

The Freedmen’s Bureau: New Beginnings for Recently Freed African Americans

The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, with General Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Confederate Army to the Union Army. The country was in complete chaos. How could a country that was so strongly divided mend itself into one cohesive unit? What would happen to over 3.5 million enslaved persons who have now been freed?
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Collection Story

Color(ed) Theory

Color(ed) Theory is a series of photographs featuring houses painted entirely in a single color. Each house in the series is painted the same color as a namesake, Black targeted, consumer product. For some people, the color of the house is immediately connected to a product they are familiar with and know. For others, the symbolism behind the color of the home remains a mystery.
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