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‘Influencing Lincoln: The Pursuit of Black Freedom’ is the first exhibit to open at the Indiana State Museum



Indianapolis, Indiana – The exhibition “Influencing Lincoln: The Pursuit of Black Freedom” opened at the Indiana State Museum on Saturday. The exhibition examines the Black community’s struggle for independence and equal rights both nationally and in Indiana during and after the Civil War.

The exhibit was created to, “discover how the 19th-century black community connected through church, business, family, military, education and politics — fought for full citizenship and helped shift President Lincoln’s attitudes and actions regarding freedom,” according to a press release from the Indiana State Museum.

“The same institution-building and use of social networks to effect change and equal rights were also happening in communities around the country, including Indianapolis,” said Susannah Koerber, chief curator and research officer and co-curator of the exhibition. “In the exhibition, we have the national story that happens with Lincoln and the parallel story that happens here with places like Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and the organization of the 28th Indiana United States Colored Regiment.”

The collection will include rarely-seen historical papers and artifacts from the 1861–1875 period, including the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment.

“Black people were active in this freedom struggle,” said Kisha Tandy, curator of social history and co-curator of the exhibition. “They weren’t sitting around waiting for someone to give them freedom. They were organized, effective, and deliberate. Deliberate in their actions to obtain freedom, organized in the way they went about it, and effective because they made change.”

The exhibition will be on display from March 18, 2023, to October 29, 2023. The show is free with entry, which costs $17 for adults, $16 for seniors, $12 for kids, and $5 for college students who have an ID from an Indiana school and are actively enrolled.

To learn more, contact 317-232-1637.

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