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

The achievements by African Americans over the past twenty years have been extraordinary. In fact, it is hard to imagine an element of American society that has not benefited from the hard work and skill of people of color.In politics and government, the country has seen a significant increase in the number African American cabinet officers and members of Congress. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush appointed Colin Powell as the first black officer to hold the office of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Two years later, President Bush appointed Clarence Thomas as the second African-American justice of the Supreme Court. And in 1992, Carol Mosely-Braun of Illinois became the first black woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

Entertainment was dominated by African Americans. During most of the 1980s, the Bill Cosby Show was the top program on evening television. During the day, viewers turned in to Oprah Winfrey for comfort and advice. Oscar winning actors Denzel Washington and Hallie Barry filled the silver screen.

Literature benefited substantially from the work of African Americans. Alice Walker burst on the scene in 1983 with The Color Purple. In 1993, Rita Dove was named Poet Laureate of the United States and Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature -- firsts for African Americans.

In sports, success could be summed up with first names such as “Michael” and “Barry.” Everyone wanted to shoot like Michael Jordon in basketball, sprint like Michael Johnson in the Olympics, run like Barry Sanders in football and hit like Barry Bonds in baseball. And who can forget the marvelous tennis-playing Williams sisters at the end of the 1990s?

And yet African Americans remember the Rodney King verdict, as well as other race-related incidents in the recent past. Some are frustrated by the changes in Affirmative Action programs and the future of inner-city schools. And the country is divided over black celebrities such as O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, and Kobe Bryant.

No one ever said that it was easy to be a person of color in America.


The Turn of the Century, 1981-2004

 
Turn of the Century exhibit section

In this photo:
--The Turn of the Century 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
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 (you are here)
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