In Search of African America:  One Collector's Experience January 17-March 21, 2004

In 1901, famed educator Booker T. Washington published his autobiography, Up from Slavery. In many ways, the book and its author symbolized the progress that all African Americans had made in the previous three decades. By the turn of the 20th century, black people were beginning to assert themselves and claim their rightful place as citizens of the United States.

That same year Washington dined with Theodore Roosevelt, the first time a black man had been invited to a White House social function. Whites protested that the White House had been defiled thereby reminding Washington that no matter how far black people had come, they still had a long way to go.

The first two decades of the twentieth century were years of self help. Not only did Booker T. Washington offer advice, so also did a professor named W.E.B. DuBois, who wrote the classic volume The Soul of Black Folk (1903). DuBois and other intellectuals formed the Niagara Movement which called for full equality for blacks in American life. The movement would evolve in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the premier civil rights organization in the United States.

Many blacks seized the day and achieved new heights. In 1905, Madame C.J. Walker developed a method for straightening curly hair and became the nation's first black millionaire. At Tuskegee, George Washington Carver used peanuts and sweet potatoes to reinvigorate southern agriculture. The National Urban League was formed to assist blacks living in large cities. And in Atlanta, John Hope established Morehouse College, a premier institution for young black intellectuals. One of its most prominent alumni would be the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

The dark side of this social progress was violence in northern cities. As African Americans moved north, they clashed with northern racists. There were riots in Springfield, Illinois in 1908, in East St. Louis in 1917, and on the south side of Chicago in 1919 among other cities. The struggle for equality was far from over.

Up From Slavery:
The Self Help Period
1898-1919

 

Up from Slavery section of the exhibit
Up from Slavery section of the exhibit
Up from Slavery section of the exhibit

In this photo:
--3 photographs of the Up from Slavery section of the exhibit.

 

 
This exhibit is divided into 10 sections

1. Introduction
--The James Hicks Collection

2. The Burden of Slavery, 1619-1861

 3. The Civil War, 1861-1865
4. The Price of Freedom: Reconstruction, 1865-1877

5. Say Hello To Jim Crow, 1878-1897

6. Up From Slavery: The Self Help Period 1898-1919 (you are here)
7. The Harlem Renaissance, 1920-1946
8. The Civil Rights Era, 1947-1968
9. The Black Power Movement, 1968-1980
10. The Turn of the Century, 1981-2004
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