The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library recently opened up its new exhibit celebrating Black feminism in Washington D.C.
Launched on March 30, the exhibit, titled “We Who Believe in Freedom: Black Feminist DC,” was created to spotlight the work of over 20 Black women. Curated by historians Sherie M. Randolph and Kendra T. Field, the focus of the exhibit is on their activism and the way that they’ve changed society in both Washington D.C. and the United States as a whole.
Created in partnership with the National Women’s History Museum, the exhibit includes both text and photos as well as interactives about the women; a virtual experience is also available on the National Women’s History Museum website.
“Our inaugural exhibit explores the stories and voices of Black feminist organizers and theorists whose work changed the trajectory for the lives of millions—work that continues today and is often overlooked in history books,” said Susan D. Whiting, the Board Chair of the National Women’s History Museum, in a statement. “The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library is a beautiful venue to exhibit this important cultural content and, as a public building, ensures that the exhibit is accessible to all.”
Through the exhibit, the stories of trailblazers such as Eleanor Holmes Norton, Etta Horn and Bernice Johnson Reagon are explored amongst others.
During the early 60s, Norton was an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement, helping coordinate the work of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. Entering into a career of politics, she’s served as the congresswoman for the District of Columbia for 32 years from 1991, advocating for women’s rights and civil rights issues.
Meanwhile, Etta Horn was a key figure in the Welfare Rights Movement. As part of the council, The Band of Angels, and the founder of the National Welfare Rights Organization, she fought for renovations to neglected housing areas in the District.
Reagon was also active with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, helping create the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee Freedom Singers. Through her work, she helped revoutionize the arts-highlighting the importance of using music to protest.
With the new exhibit, Randolph and Field aspire to have the stories of these women bring about more change.
“I hope visitors leave inspired to create a radical, emphatic, mobilizing feminist theory of their own. We need more theory and action inspired by Black feminism,” said Dr. Randolph per a statement. “Write more poems, write more books and more manifestos connected to action. That would be a gift to us all.”
The exhibit will run until September 2024 and is free to the public.