PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (CSSJ) at Brown University will host the Rhode Island leg of a national traveling exhibition on the Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington from May 7 to June 10, 2015.
Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863, and the March on Washington, 1963 is curated by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The exhibition examines two historical moments that are 100 years apart but linked together in a larger story of the struggle for liberty and the American experience.
Presented by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Museum of American History in collaboration with the American Library Association Public Programs Office, Changing America is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The exhibition will travel to 50 venues across the nation, accompanied by public programming that will help audiences understand and discuss the relationship between these two great people’s movements.
The CSSJ has two public events planned as part of the exhibition opening. Francoise Hamlin, associate professor of Africana studies and history, will offer remarks on “Freedom’s Promissory Note,” at the exhibition’s opening reception Thursday, May 7, 2015, at 5:30 p.m.
On noon Friday, May 8, Michael Vorenberg, associate professor of history, will give a lunch hour talk on “When Should History Say That Slavery Ended in the United States?” To attend, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The exhibition and all events will take place in the Glenn and Darcy Weiner Center at 80 Brown St. Exhibition hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m.; and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.
A local link
When they heard that Changing America was coming to campus, Reya Sehgal, Anni Pullagura, Ida Yalzadeh — all Brown graduate students in Susan Smulyan’s “Methods in Public Humanities” class — teamed up to create Changing America Rhode Island, an online exhibition that could be shared with local teachers and their students even after the Smithsonian exhibit moves on.
Drawing from the collections of the John Hay Library, David Winton Bell Gallery, Rhode Island Historical Society, and Providence Public Library, the online exhibit tells the story of what was happening in Rhode Island while the Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington were unfolding nationally. The exhibition weaves an informational narrative together with archival documents and images to show students what Rhode Island was like during two pivotal moments in history.
“It’s important for visitors to see the local experience in both the civil rights era and the Civil War era,” said Pullagura. “The site has an amazing selection of artifacts unique to both Brown and Rhode Island, and it will be great to have people realize what kind of resources and history they are sharing here in the state.”
The students say that they were surprised and moved by many of the items they discovered, including a photo of Providence’s Exchange Plaza when it was the departure point for Civil War soldiers to board steamships and head to battle in 1863. The exhibit includes many images taken by Danny Lyon, who went on to become the first staff photographer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the Civil Rights Movement.
Changing America Rhode Island will be available online beginning May 7. The online exhibition was made possible with support from the Rhode Island Historical Society.