The theme of the NMAAHC’s inaugural exhibition, “African American resistance across 150 years of U.S. history, was inspired by the words of Henry Highland Garnet, an abolitionist and clergyman. On August 16, 1843, Garnet spoke to a group of northern free blacks gathered to discuss the future prospects of black America. Frustrated at the lack of progress, he advocated action:
Strike for your lives and liberties….Let your motto be Resistance! Resistance! RESISTANCE!….What kind of resistance you…make you must decide by the circumstances that surround you….”
The exhibit photographs, selected from the National Portrait Gallery, “reveal and illuminate the variety of creative and courageous ways that African Americans resisted, redefined and accommodated in an America that needed but rarely accepted its black citizens.”
Excerpt from the NMAAHC exhibit site
Take some time to explore this online exhibit from the NMAAHC. You’ll find striking photographs and brief narratives of more than 30 African Americans who took up Garnet’s call, including Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Ella Fitzgerald, Amiri Baraka, and Malcolm X.