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Honor Black Women in History With These Exhibits

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This year, Women’s History Month was ushered in with many new events and documentaries. 

Public spaces like the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and the New York Public Library held conversations about women in STEM and what it means to be a Black woman in America. 

Meanwhile, channels like PBS aired documentaries like “Althea,” a documentary about tennis player Althea Gibson who overcame racial barriers to become the first Black athlete to take part in Wimbledon in 1951.

Although Women’s History Month is drawing to a close, there are still plenty of exhibits available for viewing that commemorate the achievements and lives of Black women throughout time. 

Here are five displays to help you honor the stories of Black women throughout history. 

  1. Millie Christine: The Life and Legal Battles of the Carolina Twins: Created by the National Museum of African American History & Culture, this exhibit focuses on the story of the McCoy twins. In 1852, Millie and Christine McCoy were born as conjoined twins to enslaved parents Jacob and Monemia McCoy. Two years after their birth, they were kidnapped and taken away from their family to forcibly take part in circuses and sideshow attractions around the U.S. and Europe. To regain custody of their daughters after the 13th Amendment was passed, the McCoy parents had to go through a lengthy process involving the Freedmen’s Bureau as one of their enslavers, Mary A. Smith, planned to take the McCoy twins to Europe permanently. To see the historical documents related to the twins, the exhibit is free for viewing.
  1. Angela Davis- Seize the Time: Located at the Rutgers Zimmerli Art Museum, the exhibit highlights the achievements of activist Angela Davis and her impact on the ideas of oppression, feminism and prison reform. Featuring documents such as magazines, court sketches, video, writing, letters and more, the exhibit chronicles Davis’ work from the beginning of her teaching career at the University of California in 1969 when she was fired for being part of a Communist Party as well as her work to support the Soledad Brothers. The exhibit also focuses on Davis’ influence on artists such as Sadie Barnette and Renée Green. Admission to the museum is free. 
  1. Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words: Hosted by the Library of Congress, the exhibit takes a deeper look at the activist Rosa Parks’ career before her role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Showing off autographed manuscripts, letters, photographs and other unseen documents, Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words dispels the common perception that she was who refused to give up her seat because she was physically too tired to stand by including information about her activist work in the 30s and 40s. In the years before the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Parks was actively working with the NAACP and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. She was also part of the effort to save the Scottsboro Boys, nine Black teenagers who were falsely accused of sexually assaulting two white women. To view the exhibit, it costs nothing as the entrance is free. 
  1. Sojourner Truth Available as a free online exhibit by the National Women’s History Museum, Sojourner Truth is about the abolitionist and women’s rights activist herself. Chronicling her life from her birth in Hurley, New York as Isabella Baumfree, the exhibit tells the story of how Truth, motivated by God, was able to escape from enslavement to become a prominent figure in the fight for both freedom and gender equality often speaking at meetings. In the Civil War, Truth played an active role, working alongside the National Freedmen’s Relief Association and the Freedmen’s Bureau. Even after the Emancipation Proclamation, she continued to advocate for justice. The exhibit gives more information on Truth’s life and is free to view. 
  1. Zora Neale Hurston Plays: Also available as a free online exhibit, this display is presented by the Library of Congress. Hurston, known for works like “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” was a part of the Harlem Renaissance, a movement when Black culture like the arts thrived. Inspired by her anthropological studies at Barnard College and her knowledge of African-American and Caribbean folk stories, she wrote fictional stories about real-life issues like racism in the South. The exhibit draws attention to drafts of “Mule-Bone” and nine other unpublished plays, including “Forty Yards,” “Poker!” and “Spunk.” The writings are free to view online.

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