tv Slavery and Freedom Exhibit CSPAN May 14, 2017 6:00pm-6:31pm EDT
in the future, the policies of the united states should be governed by learning and reason. otherwise they will confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible. there is a lot learned from jfk. >> watch the entire program sunday at 8:00 p.m. at midnight eastern. this is american history tv only on c-span3. >> each week, american history tv's american artifact visits distort places. malled on the national near the washington monument, the museum has quickly become one of the most visited in the nation's capital with capacity crowds almost every day. theisit the museum to tour
history galleries, which begins three stories underground. mary: my name is mary elliott and i am a museum specialist and co-curator of the slavery exhibition, which is one of three exhibitions in the history gallery. we have three exhibitions in this gallery and those 15th-centuryover africa and europe all the way to today. some of the themes we cover include holding onto humanity under some of the most inhumane conditions. we look at the harsh realities of slavery and freedom, the resistance and survival of a people. we look at africans and african americans shaped the world as well as a nation. we look at how they shaped the landscape. that means socially, politically, economically,
geographically, as well as culturally and intellectually. what is important for people to thesetand is we look at stories as human stories. they are told through the african-american lens. this is a shared history and you will see yourself throughout this exhibition. at one oft looking the opening labels for the slavery and freedom exhibition. behind me is a label that is to the making of the atlantic world. we feature a story of someone who was the leader of the west african coast. she strategically aligned with the portuguese, dutch, and turks to avoid her people being enslaved as well as being in the
slave trade. is a quote her story from a gentleman of european descent. the statement says while i admit i am sickened at the purchase of becausei must be mum how would we do without sugar or rum? what is important about that statement is to think about the morality of this particular story. what moral obligations do we have to each other? concentrate on the opening line. i admit that i am sickened at -- the purchase of slaves. very important that we look at those moral issues as we go through that exhibition. we do not start this exhibition with the story of slavery. we start with the story of humanity and we start in africa looking at it as a continent data of many people. let's look at some of the other objects in the exhibition.
as we discussed, we just came through the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade, looking at the making of the atlantic world and a global economy. the driver of trade was sugar and that moved forward the effort to ship as many human beings across the atlantic ocean forced into slavery. now we come to the story of middle passage. the middle passage being the space transporting africans from the west coast of africa throughout the americas across the atlantic ocean. we have artifacts from a slave ship found off the coast of south africa. it left lisbon, went to mozambique, africa, picked up
captive africans on its way to brazil to sell them as enslaved africans. the ship crashed off the coast of south africa. we are fortunate to have organized with george washington university, the university of cape town, and partners in mozambique as we were able to identify the slave ship wreck on the ocean floor off the coast of south africa. one of the key markers to identify this as a slave ship wreck is some of the research there were 1400 ballast stones on the ship. to offset the human weight. we are excited to feature those in the middle space in middle passage. we do not have images in this space. we chose to allow the first-person voice to carry the space.
we wanted those who went through the experience to speak for themselves. the human story extends to everybody. you will hear voices of those who were enslaved but you also hear voices of crew members. you hear voices of slaves ship surgeons. the horrors of the experience but also understand there is an important understanding of the resistance, resilience, and the survival. we think of human suffering you resiliencenk of the of someone who can hold on during that experience. >> every morning, perhaps more instances than one have found of the living and the dead found together. mary: across the way from the middle passage space is the
transatlantic slave trade speech. profit and power juxtaposed against the human caused. we have a sign where you see the business of the trade, the development of the plantation system and how everyone benefited from the trade. we also look at the human cost through the voices of those enslaved and the process of enslavement. fox's the objects is the wage book. it features the wages given to crew members on a slave ship. that document tells us two things. one, it lets us understand that everyone in it fitted from the trade, but why would someone serve on a slave ship? perhaps theyk wanted to gain passage to the new world or they needed to feed their family or going back to that moral issue, perhaps they
thought it was justified -- just fine to make money and profit off the sale of human spirit many crewmembers committed suicide or ran away. the human experience extends to everybody. looking at the people below in the whole of the ship -- hold of the ship, slave ship crew members would pack the ship and that experience oftentimes, slave ship captain said, how much cargo you can bring depends on how many enslaved people you can fit into the hold of a ship. it is a powerful story. colonial northe america space of the exhibition. allow me to explain to use some of the design treatment we used to unpack this story.
we break up the section by region because this is not a monolithic story. africans in america shaped the landscape and were shaped by the landscape. the reasons we break out include the chesapeake, where we look at the making of race. then we move into low countries, down into the carolinas and call islands and georgia area. that allows us to look at enslaving still. then we come to louisiana. finally we come to the north and look at the urban environment and the merchant system. what is important to note is that in each of these spaces the treatments are done in a pattern but they have their unique features. from the beginning you see some of the regions of africa where people came from and the specific regions in the americas.
you also see how the laws change over time and start to define white men and you start to see how africans become black herbal america. you start to see the status development of all people in plantation a, from lead, to yeoman white farmer, free blacks, and africans. space,k at life in the escape in the space, and we start to unpack the story of freedom through the story of rebellion. about personal stories lived, labored, and rebelled in the spaces during this time. all of this is foundational to the developed into the nation. what comes next is the fight for liberty. slavery and freedom comes from the beginning. the fight for freedom is one
that had been going on amongst africans from the time they were carried from the interior all the way to this point. why don't we go to the section on the paradox of liberty where we start to unpack the story of liberty and freedom and what it ?eans at this pivotal time we come from colonial north america and we are passing through the story about the revolutionary war. now we are entering into the paradox of liberty. let me show you a powerful object that is personal and speaks to genealogy and the importance that the role of genealogy helps play in telling the story. we enter into this revolutionary period and there is freedom everywhere, or so one would think. freedom and liberty are the call of the day. we have a space that looks at free communities of color that were all over the nation at
the time. while there were free communities of color, there were limits to that freedom. we were fortunate to be contacted by elaine thompson, a wonderful woman who took the time to really take care of her family heirlooms. owneds a handmade tin by a family ancestor, joseph trammell. protect theto freedom papers from 1852. those papers were important to him because at any moment's notice someone could challenge is freedom and he had to prove that. he had to register every two years in virginia and it gives us more insight on the personal experience of being free during this personal time. sadly, alain has passed on but she was steward of her family's history and she was able to
unpack quite a bit of her family's story. her great-niece has picked up the mantle and is carrying it forward. she is getting ready to rewrite that look at age 16 and carry that genealogical information further. toare looking forward finding out about joseph trammell and his status as a free man. we talked about the stories of free communities of color. at the time you had free african-americans who aligned with enslaved african-americans, again, a collective voice fighting for freedom. they are fighting for freedom in a nation founded on liberty but
still maintaining slavery. me ofe the figures behind thomas jefferson. we unpacked the story of voices of freedom. the voices of jefferson and banneker are phyllis wheatley. all voices of freedom. to me about the connection of banneker and jefferson is banneker sending his almanac to jefferson and stating that african-americans are brilliant. they are human. they contribute to the development of the nation and deserve to be free. thomas jefferson essentially said you are the exception and freedom was not going to come during his particular time in life.
this is a human story. in the midst of all of this inhumanity, you still have african-americans fighting for freedom, fighting for liberty, fighting for the nation to recognize them as citizens in this world. atwe go forward we look ,hile they were laws african-americans found ways to go a around those laws and hold on to their humanity. many things happened after the revolutionary war, including the development of the cotton gin in 1793 and the louisiana purchase in 1803 and the end of the international slave trade in 18 away. what did that mean? please note the space we are in right now. directly in front of me is a tower of cotton which is a
marker as the driver of the trade. no different than sugar was during the early period. as we come out of the paradox of liberty and we look directly to the right, all the pieces of legislation to the declaration of liberty par -- declaration of independence, the constitution, the dred scott decision. you see paired with those sermons,from speeches, newspaper articles written by african-americans speaking back to the moment. to my left is the story of the domestic slave trade. 1793 the cotton gin is produced. land tons there is more cultivate cotton and cotton is high demand and being produced more efficiently. ont demand has an impact
african american bodies and mothers, sons, husbands, and wide are being -- and wives are being sold away. this is a story of slavery and freedom. the same men, women, and children are fighting for their freedom all along the way. one of the more pivotal stories and iconic stories is that of net turner -- nat turner. we feature a bible owned by turner at the time of his escape and the time of the rebellion. nat turner is pivotal because like other rebellions that took place throughout the african diaspora, it made an impact on this country. up,e those laws tightened african-americans found ways to go around those laws. we have a section directly
behind me called making a way out of no way, where we look at the black code and slave code, code that defined autonomy. they were often times restricted more than you can imagine. illegal to read, illegal to gather, illegal to practice their faith. likef the objects i would without is a family object. we were contacted by shirley burke tried reached out to us and donated her ancestor's violin that was given by a slave owner to perform the family plantation. that file in is important to the law regarding illegal together. oftentimes african-americans in the high suge knight find way to leisure and love one
another at the same time. allow us to go down the hall and see the slave cabin next, which is a poignant story and it is a community story. this is a shared history. of the from the story driver of the trade being cotton and we are in antebellum period. you see the nation and the cacophony of activity going on and the development of legislation. we look at the human story of african men and women finding ways to go around black codes and slave codes, but that speaks to the personal experience of being sold away on the auction blocks and the juxtaposition of profit and power. it is important to note that one of the design features we have in this exhibition is we have a sales andd with
broadsides. you will see a young boy sold for five dollars. five dollars for a young black void is with the excerpt said. five dollars is the monetary value but the value of the boy's mother or brother or sister is immeasurable. looking at the many complexities of the human experience during the antebellum period. we were fortunate to receive a call from a historic preservation society that wanted to donate a slave cabin to our museum. looking for aere cabin to tell the story in a powerful way and they had one. about this isul on the front side, we interpret
it as slavery. on the backside, we look at it on freedom. the union army camped out here during the civil war and you see where land is given to the andcan american community taken away several times until it is ultimately taken away for good. what is important about the -- this could be considered a pen, but african-american men and women with resilience and holding onto their humanity found ways to hold on to one another. new found ways to create and cultural practices. we break down members of the
community. the nurturers, the cultivators. williams of solomon -- who was an on a black man on a plantation in williams. this is a gentleman who had no education but this drill bit is an arch kaisha and all -- architectural feat. you look at the same skill set he used to create an ornate grave marker for his wife. also created the shackles that were used on the enslaved on the plantation site. we don't look at just what he wore, what he ate, what he got up in the morning, how much land
he cultivated. this is a man and his story is told through life in terms of how he designed the ornate grave to --s, work in his terms being responsible for creating those on the lactation site. that takes us to the story of the civil war. we will talk about the coming of the civil war and how complex that story is. it is not just north versus south. there were many voices involved during the fight. we can talk about objects and their importance in the historical context but what is important to note is how we acquire these objects. in the process of dismantling the slave cabin we had community
members come out and help us unpack the story of the community. areuded in that community the descendents of the enslaved as well as he descended of the slaveholder family. we were fortunate to meet with both groups together and talk about the importance of this history coming to the general public to get a deeper understanding of what it needs to be american -- what it means to be american. we know about slavery and freedom and know there was a civil war which had a major impact on this nation. we look at the story of the civil war and keeping the union together. embedded in the secession papers is flavoring that understand african-americans fled to the union line as they came closer the plantationf
sites were located. theirerates demanded property back at the union declared them contraband of war and as such were able to keep them. these men, women, and children turned the fight to keep the union together into a fight for freedom. one of the most influential members of the african-american community and america itself is frederick douglas. frederick douglass led the charge on pushing for freedom and started dialogue with abraham lincoln. it ensured that african-american men could fight on the battlefield for their freedom. behind me is a dynamic broadside that we were fortunate to receive where you see a call of men of color to arms. you can only imagine how powerful that was for african-american men to understand they could suit up and fight for freedom and ensure the freedom of
generations that follow them. frederick douglas played a pivotal role. dialogue a constant president lincoln to ensure that freedom came through the emancipation proclamation and ultimately the 13th amendment. when you visit you will see artifacts that speak to the --orts of shirley grimke charlotte grimke. you will also see the story of harry tubman. she also served as a union spy. why don't we go forward and look at some of the artifacts that really speak to freedom during the. -- during the period of emancipation?
how do you tell a whole population of people that they are now free? those same men that frederick douglass fought for to ensure they would be able to fight for freedom on the battlefield were responsible for carrying things such as this, the very important, tiny, the powerful, emancipation proclamation. men, women, and children they were no longer enslaved. the space we are in is quite powerful. behind me you see the legislation that started with declaration of independence and carries all the way through the exhibition until you come to this point. you see through the agency of african-american men and women, we come to the emancipation proclamation, the 13th amendment, 14th amendment, and
15th amendment. those are powerful even today but notice the space we are in speaks to the reconstruction period. we are fortunate to feature an ownedal campaign button by one of the several african-american men who ran for office and secured a position in their local legislature and congressional position. william beverly nash was based in north carolina. foughtmen, and children to reconnect with relatives. army camped out at the point of pine plantation. land was given to those formally enslaved and taken away at least three times.
ultimately it was taken away for good. a co-op was formed amongst nine men who were able to secure 900 acres of land. i have to point out something very important because this takes us into the segregation era. this is something that occurred during the period of slavery. the church is featured here. the churches featured in our story as well. the church is at the center of the community development. the church was a site not just for sanctuary but for community organizing, civic engagement, for gathering, for education. the church plays a pivotal role and we are excited to feature the story of metropolitan ame church attended by frederick douglass.
we look forward to having you here and having you look through some of the exciting objects in our exhibition and learning more about the american experience, the human story, indeed a shared history. thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> next on american history tv, .teve young, a former advisor he talks about how the conflict in southeast asia evolved over time. contrastsalso president johnson's policies with those of his successor, richard nixon. the humphrey school of public affairs at the university of minnesota in minneapolis posted this hour and 15 minute event.