What is, Making a Way Out of No Way?

The stories in this exhibition convey how African Americans "made a way out of no way" by creating institutions and organizations that addressed the needs of their communities and served as vehicles for social change. The strategies and techniques used to achieve these goals reveal how African Americans have always been active agents in shaping their lives.

Banner with motto of Oklahoma Federation of Colored Women's Clubs.
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

As you make your way through the exhibition, you will encounter compelling stories, illustrated with historical artifacts and images that explore and illuminate how each of the five institutional pillars—education, religion, business, organizations, and press—have sustained and guided African American communities throughout American history.

The central display area, "A Tradition of Activism", presents stories of how organized political action, from legal battles to mass protests, grassroots campaigns, and public debate, "made a way" to fight injustice, secure civil rights, and expand opportunities.