For immediate release

Release dated: January 17, 2024

MNHS media contacts: Jack Bernstein, 651-259-3058, jack.bernstein@mnhs.org or Allison Ortiz, 651-259-3051, allison.ortiz@mnhs.org

Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow opens on February 3 

ST. PAUL, Minn (Jan. 17, 2024) – Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow explores African Americans' fight for racial equality and full citizenship that unfolded in the 50 years following the Civil War. Through art, artifacts, and photographs, visitors to the Minnesota History Center will experience the legacy of Black advancement, resilience, and resistance in the face of opposition from many white Americans during these transformative decades, which are still relevant today.

The exhibition's debut on February 3 coincides with the first week of Black History Month. This exhibition, organized by the New-York Historical Society, will provide History Center visitors a space to honor, acknowledge, and celebrate the contributions of Black Americans. It also allows an opportunity to pause and reflect on the Black experience in the United States. The exhibition will run through June 9, 2024.

Opened by the New-York Historical Society in 2018 to mark the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, this traveling exhibition follows the journey of African Americans from the end of the Civil War to the end of World War I. Exhibition highlights include:

  • portrait of Dred Scott (ca. 1857), an enslaved person from Missouri, transferred to Historic Fort Snelling in 1836, who sued for his freedom and lost after the US Supreme Court ruled that no Black person, free or enslaved, could ever be a US citizen;
  • Thirteenth Amendment (1865), signed by President Abraham Lincoln, which permanently abolished US slavery;
  • slave shackles (1866) cut from the ankles of 17-year-old Mary Horn, who was held captive even after slavery was abolished the year before, until her fiancé asked for help from a Union soldier who removed the chains and married the couple;
  • Uncle Ned’s School (1866) a sculpture by artist John Rogers depicting an improvised classroom created by African Americans during Reconstruction;
  • marriage certificate (1874) of Augustus Johnson and Malinda Murphy, who made their long-standing relationship legal during Reconstruction;
  • activist Ida B. Wells’ pamphlet Southern Horrors (1892), which reported that 728 lynchings had taken place in just the previous eight years and was written to “arouse the conscience of the American people to a demand for justice to every citizen”

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition, join three local scholars—Drs. William Green, Duchess Harris, and James Robinson—for a program on the history of African Americans in Minnesota during the post-Emancipation era. This opening program will take place from 1 pm–3 pm on Saturday, February 3 at the Minnesota History Center. 

Funding provided by the State of Minnesota's Legacy Amendment, through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008. 

This exhibition has been organized by the New-York Historical Society. Lead support for the exhibition provided by National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Major support provided by the Ford Foundation and Crystal McCrary and Raymond J. McGuire.

Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these programs do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About the Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves, and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs, and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories, and connects people with history.

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. New-York Historical is also home to one of the oldest, most distinguished libraries in the nation—and one of only sixteen in the United States qualified to be a member of the Independent Research Libraries Association—the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, which contains more than three million books, pamphlets, maps, atlases, newspapers, broadsides, music sheets, manuscripts, prints, photographs and architectural drawings.