NOW – Free At Last?
By the 1980s, Black America came to another roadblock in the long struggle to full equality.
After the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, there were many more black college graduates, professionals, and business people than before. Many of them believed they would soon reach the American Dream.
Working-class blacks, however, faced a very different reality. Factory jobs left the inner cities and the industrial South. This led to high black unemployment. The dreams that had brought many black people North during the Great Migration were quickly dying.
White flight to well-funded suburban schools broke the back of school desegregation ordered by the Supreme Court.
Police brutality led to black unrest and rebellion in several cities. The most well-known occurred in Los Angeles in 1992 after the Rodney King beating.
The War on Drugs began to require harsher sentences for drug offenses. These have been applied most often to African Americans.
The number of blacks in prison has soared over the last thirty years, even when crime rates are at historic lows. Recent “justifiable homicides” of blacks by non-blacks have again raised questions about racial equality before the law. This situation is being called the “New Jim Crow.”
Still, the advances of African Americans in all fields – and the election of our first black president – give some reason to hope.
Hundreds gathered in a small town church in Abbeville, South Carolina, known as the the birthplace of the Confederacy. Descendants of Anthony Crawford and descendants of his lynchers joined in a service of apology, forgiveness and reconciliation for that lynching and other racial injustices that took place there nearly a century ago.
Harvard professor Lawrence Bobo explains how the Zimmerman verdict reflects the racism at America’s core – leading to the continual dehumanization of blacks. When cultural racism is this deeply embedded in America’s basic cultural toolkit, it need not be named or even consciously embraced to work its ill effects.
Bernard Lafayette is one of the founding fathers of the Voting Rights Act. He was part of a small interracial army of men and women who presented their bodies as living sacrifices for the Act. Some lost their friends, their families, their minds — even their lives. But 50 years after their greatest triumph, their struggle is in danger of being lost.
With its store of family memories, Arkansas defines home for me. But embracing and claiming it as my own is prickly business. “Home” has closets of skeletons that are anything but comforting: the Lost Cause, Jim Crow, the Ku Klux Klan, lynchings.
An exhibit is comprised of the personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity, and shouting that ABHM receives in the Comments sections of exhibits.
Arno Michaels grew up as a gifted child of privilege. In his teens he became a white-power extremist, a leader of skinheads. Today he is an international activist for peace, justice, and basic human kindness. Read his story and watch a video about his transformation and redemption.
Here are some of the exhibits we plan to mount in this gallery.