NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY COMMEMORATES
THE HISTORY OF RACE IN AMERICA DURING BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Exhibitions, Special Installations, Talks, Tours, and Family Programs Help Visitors Gain
New Perspectives in the Struggle for Racial Equality
New York, NY, January 28, 2019 – New-York Historical Society commemorates Black History Month with a full slate of exhibitions, special installations, talks, and family programs, exploring the struggle for racial equality. Art and artifacts bring new insights into the fight for freedom, equality, and civil rights that continues to impact the nation today. Throughout the month, engaging talks from leading scholars address a variety of subjects, including African American activists before the Civil War and the legacy of blackface, while families can learn about the Jim Crow era with educator-designed booklets and Living Historians portraying activists and famous figures from the time period.
Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow
Now through March 3, 2019
Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow explores the struggle for full citizenship and racial equality that unfolded in the 50 years after the Civil War. Art, artifacts, photographs, and media help visitors explore these transformative decades in American history and understand their continuing relevance today. When slavery ended in 1865, a period of Reconstruction began, leading to such achievements as the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution. By 1868, all persons born in the United States were citizens and equal under the law. But efforts to create an interracial democracy were contested from the start. A harsh backlash ensued, ushering in a half century of the “separate but equal” age of Jim Crow. Opening to mark the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, the exhibition is organized chronologically from the end of the Civil War to the end of World War I and highlights the central role played by African Americans in advocating for their rights. It also examines the depth and breadth of opposition to black advancement.
Families can navigate Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow together using an educator-designed booklet, which includes prompts for intergenerational discussion and engaging activities, and acts as a family appropriate highlights tour of the exhibition.
Betye Saar: Keepin’ It Clean
Now through May 27, 2019
Contemporary artist Betye Saar has shaped the development of assemblage art in the United States, particularly as a device to illuminate social and political concerns. A key figure in the Black Arts Movement and the feminist art movement of the 1960–70s, Saar’s distinct vision harmonizes the personal and the political. Over the years, Saar has transformed the representation of African Americans in our culture by recycling and reclaiming derogatory images such as Aunt Jemimas, Uncle Toms, sambos, and mammies to confront the continued racism in American society and create representations of strength and perseverance. This exhibition focuses on one facet of her work—washboards—created between 1997 and 2017. Presented in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery, part of the Center for Women’s History, the exhibition is organized by the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles.
Remembering Slavery in New York: A Special Installation
On view February 1 – 28, 2019
On display for Black History Month is a selection of wire sculptures created in 2005 for New-York Historical’s landmark exhibition Slavery in New York. While research at the time uncovered the names of the first Africans brought to New Amsterdam by the Dutch in 1627 as slaves, there was no way to ascertain these peoples’ actual physical details. In fact, not a single image of a black New Yorker survives from the period before 1796. Brooklyn artist Deryck Fraser was commissioned to develop a series of wire sculptures that would evoke, rather than represent the city’s earliest Africans. For the most part, the sculptures conveyed the work in which these early Africans were engaged—hefting timber and carrying a load of wood. The reinstallation of five of these sculptures pays tribute to these early enslaved New Yorkers, who bequeathed so much to us, including some of the most visible landmarks of our city, for example, the Wall on Wall Street and Trinity Church.
Witnesses to History: African American Voting Rights
Now through April 28, 2019
African American Voting Rights explores the struggle of African Americans to gain access to the franchise in the century after the Civil War ended. The abolition of slavery was just the beginning of a long, difficult, and sometimes dangerous fight for civil rights, including voting rights, for African Americans. Although the 15th Amendment forbade discrimination based on race, state and local governments established laws that effectively prevented African Americans from voting. Violence and intimidation on the part of white citizens further obstructed black voting rights. This installation features materials from the Gilder Lehrman Collection that document the fight for voting rights through the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Among the highlights are letters written by Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr., two leaders in the fight for civil rights; reports on voter suppression in the South and one by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy on the federal actions taken to combat such discrimination; images of the black U.S. senators and representatives elected during Reconstruction; an evocative photograph from the March from Selma to Montgomery in 1965; and a broadside encouraging African Americans to register to vote in 1965.
PUBLIC PROGRAMS AND SPECIAL EVENTS
The Lincoln Legacy
Tuesday, February 12, 6:30 pm
$38 (Members $24)
Almost immediately following his assassination, Abraham Lincoln was transformed from the embattled wartime leader and the Great Emancipator into somewhat of an American saint. More than 150 years since his death, conservatives, liberals, and independents alike continue to find inspiration and guidance from the 16th president’s wisdom and steadfastness. Beginning with Lincoln’s funeral tour and the creation of Daniel Chester French’s memorial—a story ironically filled with incredible racism—up through the present day, Lincoln Prize winner Harold Holzer explores the iconic leader’s enduring presence within the American consciousness.
Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America
Wednesday, February 13, 6:30 pm
$38 (Members $24)
In conjunction with the exhibition Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow, historians Martha S. Jones and Eric Foner uncover the history of how free African American activists fought for their status as citizens before the Civil War. Explore the constitutional challenges—including the U.S. Supreme Court case Dred Scott v. Sandford—and successes along the road to the passage of the 14th Amendment and expanded citizenship for all Americans.
Back in Class: History of Black Citizenship
Saturday, February 16, 1 – 4 pm
In the 50 years following the Civil War, efforts to create an interracial democracy were met with a backlash that ushered in the “separate but equal” age of Jim Crow. In this hands-on class, take an interactive tour of our exhibition Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow, then head into the classroom to delve deeply into this complex and important history. Work collaboratively with your classmates and the instructor to analyze historical images, documents, and artifacts that illustrate how African Americans advocated for their rights in the struggle for full citizenship and racial equality.
Nerdy Thursdays: Black Citizenship Historic Remix Night
Thursday, February 21, 6:30 – 9:30 pm
FREE, RSVP at http://blackgotham.com/nerdy-thursdays/
Nerdy Thursdays comes to New-York Historical! Join us at the Museum for this signature event from the Black Gotham Experience that brings together a DJ, gallery talks, cocktails, and a brilliant group of historians, writers, and curators. Listen to music, hear from experts, tour our exhibitions Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow and Betye Saar: Keepin’ It Clean, and explore how history is a process—that sometimes needs a remix. This program is presented in partnership with the Black Gotham Experience.
Ragtime to Jazz: Harlem’s Black and Jewish Music Culture, 1890-1930
Wednesday, February 20, 6:30 – 7:30 pm
Free, but registration is required. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Harlem historian and Columbia University Community Scholar John Reddick brings Harlem to life with this riveting look at the neighborhood’s history and the pulsing creativity it nurtured at the dawn of the 20th century, crafting modern music and the American songbook as we know it. Through sheet music, recordings, and other documents, Reddick illustrates the cultural links between Harlem’s turn-of-the-century African American composers (James Reese Europe, H.T. Burleigh) and its Jewish composers (George Gershwin, Richard Rogers) and the back-and-forth influence they had on jazz and popular music. Join us to explore how African American and Jewish musicians expressed their outsider feelings in society through their art.
Hearing History Live and Out Loud
Friday, February 22, 7 pm
$35, (Members $30, Students $25)
Explore African American history through its rich musical performance traditions. Enjoy late-night access to our Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow and Betye Saar: Keepin’ It Clean exhibitions. Inspired by the Big Band Era of Jazz, Dandy Wellington and his Band have taken the sounds of the 1930s and 40s and created a world of well-dressed music. With a passion for obscure songs steeped in the Jazz tradition, Dandy Wellington has assembled a catalog of music that invokes the elegant atmosphere of the past. The program will feature the songs associated with women who have contributed incredible music, perspective, and performances to Jazz and the Black American experience. Refreshments will be served.
Minstrelsy: From Jim Crow to Digital Blackface
Monday, February 25, 7 – 8:30 pm
Join Dr. Eric Lott and Dr. Rhae Lynn Barnes in conversation with New-York Historical’s Dominique Jean-Louis as they trace the cultural production of stereotypes from the beginnings of minstrelsy and the Jim Crow era and discuss their impact in the modern day. In the 19th century, minstrelsy was the United States’ most popular form of live entertainment, using egregious stereotypes to appeal to racist beliefs among the masses. Frederick Douglass called blackface performers “the filthy scum of white society, who have stolen from us a complexion denied them by nature, in which to make money, and pander to the corrupt taste of their white fellow citizens.” But its objectors couldn’t stop minstrelsy from permeating through mainstream culture. In fact, the term “Jim Crow” itself originates with a wildly popular 1828 blackface performance “Jump Jim Crow.” Even in our current moment, emojis, GIFs, memes, and other visuals of the social media age have given form to a new type of digital blackface. Ages 21 and up. Wine included with ticket.
Civil Rights in the Age of Trump
Tuesday, February 26, 6:30 pm
$38 (Members $24), 35 and under $10
In conjunction with New-York Historical’s exhibition Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow, New-York Historical Trustee Khalil Gibran Muhammad discusses how the legacy of Jim Crow continues to reverberate throughout American society today and illuminates how much work is still left to be done on the path towards racial equality and civil rights for all.
Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence
Wednesday, February 27, 5:30 pm
$15 (Members $12)
The new book Force and Freedom is the first historical analysis exclusively focused on the tactical use of violence among antebellum black activists. It examines one of the perennial questions in political thought: is violence a valid means of producing social change? Historian Kellie Carter Jackson, assistant professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College, addresses how black abolitionists answered this question. Black resistance and violent resistance to slavery were central to emancipation, and the phrase “freedom now” was never more urgent than in the decades leading up to the Civil War. Steven Hahn, Professor of History at New York University, joins Dr. Jackson in conversation about this important new work. Refreshments will be served.
Betye Saar: Keepin’ It Clean Docent Led Gallery Tour
Tuesday, February 5, 3 – 4 pm
$26, Seniors $21, (Members $5): includes Museum Admission
On this docent-led tour, discover the washboard as a symbol of the unresolved legacy of slavery and the subsequent oppressive systems facing black Americans today, particularly black women. Recycling and reclaiming derogatory images such as Aunt Jemimas, Uncle Toms, sambos, and mammies, artist Betye Saar confronts the continued racism in American society and creates representations of strength and perseverance. Ticket includes Museum Admission.
Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow Docent Led Gallery Tour
Wednesday, February 20, 3 – 4 pm
$26, Seniors $21, (Members $5): includes Museum Admission
How did African Americans organize to overcome the hardships of Jim Crow? On this docent-led tour, witness the experiences and events that shaped life for African Americans in the 50 years following the Civil War, and learn about the central role African Americans played in advocating for their rights. Ticket includes Museum Admission.
Living History: Founding Black Harlem
Saturday, February 2 and Sunday February 3, 12 – 4 pm
Free with Museum Admission
This weekend, visit early 20th-century Harlem and chat with its leading residents! In conjunction with Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow, meet Living Historians portraying Madam C.J. Walker, the women she trained in her salon school, and other movers and shakers, like soldiers from the 369th Regiment, who came to be known as the Harlem Hellfighters in the First World War. Learn about Walker’s life as a successful businesswoman selling hair products and creating hair styles (she became a millionaire from it!) and explore the life of Vertner W. Tandy, who served with the Harlem Hellfighters and became New York’s first black registered architect!
Living History: Schools in Reconstruction
Saturday, February 9 and Sunday, February 10, 12 – 4 pm
Free with Museum Admission
Arrive on time and ready to learn! In conjunction with our exhibition Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow, Living Historians portraying African American school teachers from the Reconstruction era welcome you to their ‘classroom’ all weekend long. Practice lettering skills on a 19th-century writing slate, explore the books and other subjects taught at African American schools in New York, and learn about schools for and teachers of recently freed people in the South that increased their opportunity to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. After you’ve completed your lesson, find out how student work was graded 150 years ago!
Reading into History Family Book Club: Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl
Sunday, February 10, 2 – 4 pm
Free with Museum Admission
Recommended for ages 9-12
Join us at the Museum as we welcome back celebrated author Tonya Bolden to discuss her book Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl. In this Coretta Scott King Honored book, the author masterfully works with the unpublished memoir of Maritcha Rémond Lyons to construct this striking portrait of a free-born African American girl living in 19th-century New York. Ask questions about Bolden’s research and writing and discuss topics throughout the story, then afterwards the author will join us on a special guided group tour of our exhibition Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow.
Living History: The First Black Elected Officials
Saturday, February 16, 12 – 4 pm
Free with Museum Admission
Meet Hiram Revels—the first black senator—and other black officials elected after the Civil War. Plus cast your vote to learn about elections in the late 19th century.
February School Vacation Week
February 16 – 24, 1 – 3 pm
Free with Museum Admission
The New-York Historical Society is celebrating Black History Month all throughout February School Vacation Week! Stop by the Museum to check out our special exhibition Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow and join us for a drop-in art activity that celebrates African American heroes.
Living History: Investigative Reporting and Jim Crow
Saturday, February 23, and Sunday, February 24, 12 – 4 pm
Free with Museum Admission
In 1892, Ida B. Wells spoke at an event in New York City organized by a committee of 250 women that successfully raised enough money to publish one of her most important works to combat racism: a pamphlet called Southern Horrors. In conjunction with Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow, join Living Historians portraying Wells and her supporters, like T. Thomas Fortune—who edited and owned the New York Age, the most influential black newspaper of its time, and published Wells’ exposés—for a look at the black press in the late 19th century. Learn the techniques of reporting that Wells pioneered, compare and contrast news headlines from African American and white newspapers, and explore the women’s clubs whom Wells inspired with her New York City speech.
Lead support for Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow provided by National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Major support provided by the Ford Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, Crystal McCrary and Raymond J. McGuire, and Agnes Gund.
Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Seymour Neuman Endowed Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.
About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s preeminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history. The DiMenna Children’s History Museum at the New-York Historical Society presents 350 years of New York and American history through character-based pavilions, interactive exhibits and digital games, and the Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library. The DiMenna Children’s History Museum encourages families to explore history together through permanent installations and a wide range of family learning programs for toddlers, children, and preteens. New-York Historical is also home to the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, one of the oldest, most distinguished libraries in the nation—and one of only 20 in the United States qualified to be a member of the Independent Research Libraries Association—which contains more than three million books, pamphlets, maps, newspapers, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and architectural drawings.
|MUSEUM AND NYHISTORY STORE HOURS
Tuesday – Thursday: 10 am – 6 pm
Friday: 10 am – 8 pm
Saturday: 10 am – 6 pm
Sunday: 11 am – 5 pm
*The Museum will be open February 18
Teachers and seniors: $16
Children (5–13): $6
Children (4 and under): Free
*Pay-as-you-wish Fridays from 6 pm – 8 pm
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West (at 77th Street)
New York, NY 10024
Photograph of young girls from The Crisis, May 1918. Indiana University Libraries | Betye Saar (b. 1926), Liberation, 2011, Mixed media on vintage washboard, Collection of Sheila Silber, Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los, Angeles, CA, Photo: Robert Wedemeyer | Betye Saar (b. 1926). Supreme Quality, 1998. Mixed media on vintage washboard, metal washtub, wood stand. Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, CA Photo: Tim Lanterman, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art | Wire sculpture of an early African in New Amsterdam, created by artist Deryck Fraser. Courtesy of New-York Historical Society | Audience members attend a public program. Courtesy of New-York Historical Society | Living Historians portray journalist Ida B. Wells and her supporters. Courtesy of New-York Historical Society