Boston’s Museum of African American History exhibit highlights role of blacks in ending slavery
Yawu Miller | 5/1/2013, 12:24 p.m.
“When war broke out, people were saying, ‘we want in,’” she says. “Abolitionists petitioned Governor John Andrews to convince the Secretary of War and the President for blacks to be in the war. And he did. In January, he was with Secretary of War [Edwin M.] Stanton in Washington signing orders. He inserted into the margin a separate order for a colored regiment.”
Morgan says the exhibit also focuses on how the movement for freedom extended through the war and the decades that followed. Black soldiers and their white officers struggled for years to have black soldiers receive the same rate of pay as their white counterparts. Black soldiers protested and refused their wages, and they eventually won.
The museum’s exhibit and the Freedom Rising forum reflect a growing recognition among scholars of the central role black and white activists played in pushing President Lincoln and others political leaders to allow blacks to participate in the struggle for emancipation.
“People are really beginning to understand the agency and primacy of blacks in the emancipation movement,” Morgan-Welch says. “Every day historians are finding out new things and interpreting them in different ways.”