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Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits

October 19, 2007 – March 2, 2008

Museum: Portrait Gallery

Location: 2nd Floor, North

The inaugural exhibition of the National Museum of African American History and Culture draws its name from the words of abolitionist and clergyman Henry Highland Garnet who advocated action when speaking to a gathering of free blacks in 1843: "Strike for your lives and liberties.... Let your motto be Resistance! Resistance! RESISTANCE!..."

The exhibition features approximately 100 photographs from the National Portrait Gallery's collection that illuminates the variety of ways that African Americans resisted and redefined an America that needed but rarely accepted its black citizens. Starting with images from the mid-1850s, this collection traces 150 years of American history through the lives of well-known abolitionists, artists, scientists, writers, statesmen, entertainers, and sports figures. Photographs of the figures represented include Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Edmonia Lewis to W.E.B. DuBois, Lorraine Hansberry, and Wynton Marsalis. Among the photographers represented are Mathew Brady, Berenice Abbott, James VanDerZee, Doris Ulmann, Edward Weston, Gordon Parks, Irving Penn, and Carl Van Vechten.

No photography permitted

Related catalogue

Online Exhibition