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The Coming of Freedom

Emancipation Proclamation: An Introduction

https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/stories/emancipation-proclamation-striking-mighty-blow-slavery
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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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Collection Story

Babies, Beauty, and Bravery: Black Excellence on the Covers of The Crisis

The editors of The Crisis used images of darling children, beautiful women, and strapping soldiers on their issue covers as symbols of Black excellence in order to discredit the idea that Black people were naturally inferior as a race. These covers reflect the many ways that African Americans maintained racial pride in the face of oppression.
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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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Our American Story

Honoring General Colin Powell

Gen. Colin Luther Powell, our nation’s first African American Secretary of State, was a revered military hero, four-star general, decorated veteran, and statesman. His accomplishments during his decades of military and civil service—including being a recipient of the Soldier’s Medal, the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, the Congressional Gold Medal, and two Presidential Medals of Freedom, among others—serve as a powerful testament and symbol of the fulfillment of the American promise.
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Collection Story

Duty, Honor, Country: Breaking Racial Barriers at West Point and Beyond

In its first 133 years of existence (1802–1935), over 10,000 white cadets graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. In stark contrast, only three African American cadets could claim this achievement: Henry Ossian Flipper (1877), John Hanks Alexander (1887), and Charles Young (1889).
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Collection Story

Their Words Live On: Remembering the Fallen Heroes of 2021

As 2022 approaches, we here at the National Museum of African American history and Culture pause to reflect on the lives of those we have lost in 2021. As we mourn their passing we must also preserve the incalculable contributions they have made to American history through their deeds and words.
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Our American Story

The Bronze Stars of Korean War Veteran Edward Theodore Taylor

I reflect on the 600,000+ African Americans who served in Korea and on those who received medals for their valor in this nation’s first desegregated war. I then celebrate in my mind my six decades of engagement in civil rights and public education that followed my return home from Korea. I learned the hard way that service in the U. S. military did not guarantee an African American full citizenship, that the struggle for respect and equality had to be fought on numerous other fronts, and that this battle would remain ongoing.
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