Interestingly, in the first sections of the website, little is said about the inherent sexual violence within the slavery system. The exhibit focuses on positive examples of empowerment and resistance of women, or more generalized discussion of overall trends in Black history. For example, one section on the Great Migration of blacks to the north after the formal end of reconstruction contains no mention of how this specifically affected African-American women. However, other sections, such as the career of anti-lynching journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and the founders of the first African-American womens colleges, bring hidden history to light. Some African-American women during the early 20th centuries accomplished feats even white women had not, such as Maggie Lena Mitchell Walker, the president of the Saint Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond, Virginia, the creator of the patented folding bed Ira E. Goode, the sculptress Mary Edmonia Lewis, and the aviatress Bessie Coleman.
However, during the Great Depression, African-Americans suffered the economic stress of that era to an even greater degree than whites, and the era was accompanied by a rise in scientific racism which scientifically attempted to prove the superiority of whites.
African-American women resisted, and eventually formed the core of the American Civil Rights movement, including famous figures such as Rosa Parks. The website ends with a brief overview of famous Black women, such as Alice Walker and Noble-prize winning Toni Morrison, as well as Oprah and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Overall, the website was relatively easy to search and navigate. Simply typing in “African-American women exhibit” brought me to it relatively swiftly through Google. In terms of the history it revealed, I found its earlier history to be more surprising and revelatory, particularly regarding the accomplishments of women during the early days of the republic and the early 20th century. The post-Civil Rights era was covered with more of a summary of general history and few biographies of famous African-American women included. This may reflect the fact that I knew more about the later eras, and had read better summaries elsewhere.
“Claiming Their Citizenship: African-American Women From 1624-2009.” National Womens
History Museum (NWHM). February 2009. June 22, 2010.