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

America is often referred to as a melting pot where people from all over the world come together into one multicultural society. Arriving as huddled masses yearning to breath free, they find acceptance and achievement in this country. Certainly that has been the experience for Americans of European ancestry.

But Americans of African heritage suffered greatly in their pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. Unlike other immigrants, the black American arrived in chains. Sold into slavery, they were treated not as future citizens, but as animals. Although African Americans fought their oppression, they found no relief until the end of the Civil War.

And even freedom from slavery did not mean acceptance. For the next century - until the Civil Rights Act on 1965 - black people were held in the bondage of American racism. African Americans had very few rights in a nation that claimed to be the home of the brave and the land of the free.

In the face of this racism, black people rose up, educated themselves, and produced great music art, and literature. Beginning in the 1880s with men such as Booker T. Washington and continuing through Martin Luther King and Colin Powell, there has been a long line of black achievement. In spite of their oppression, African Americans made a vital contribution to the melting pot that is America.

This exhibit tells the story of Americans of African ancestry as reflected in the collecting experience of one man. That he acquired so much in so short a time is testimony to the passion of James Hicks. Once he discovered that he could own pieces of his people's history, he never let it go.

As you read the text in this exhibit, you will see African-American history, but you will also see the comments of the collector on where he found the item or why it is historically significant.

We hope you enjoy this exhibit, but also come away with a deeper understanding both for African-American history and the people who collect the artifacts of that history.



introduction section of the exhibit

In this photo:
--the introduction to the exhibit.


This exhibit is divided into 10 sections

1. Introduction (you are here)
--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

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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