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Association for African American Museums Conference

2012-01-19

COMMEMORATING STRUGGLES: CLAIMING FREEDOM
www.blackmuseums.org

Buried in the broader observations of the American Civil War's Sesquicentennial, the years 2012-2015 mark the 150th
anniversaries for the Age of Emancipation in the U.S. (beginning in 1862 with Washington, DC and ending with the ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865. Also within that period are 50th anniversaries of a number of pivotal events that contributed to the American Civil Rights Movement (most notably, the March
on Washington, 2013).

The ending of slavery and the ending of racial segregation, respectively, were important benchmarks in America's history of
pursuing its revolutionary ideals, and the evolution of its most basic identity as a "free people."  Yet, with few exceptions, embracing the American freedom narrative, including emancipation and civil rights histories, has often been challenging to mainstream America too.  These topics have been held apart and frequently regarded as important to the history of African Americans, but not
fully American history.  Thus, with the calendar turning toward these
anniversaries, museums are presented with opportunities-albeit replete with challenges.