"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle."

        -- Martin Luther King Jr.

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Tuesday
Mar122013

Freedom Rising: 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and African American Military Service Conference

Image: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment at Fort Wagner, Morris Island, South Carolina, July 18, 1863.  Mural at the Recorder of Deeds building, District of Columbia, 1943.

The second founding of the United States took place in the midst of the great sacrifice and destruction of the American Civil War. Before the war, slavery was protected by the Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that no African American possessed any right that white men were bound to respect. During the war, blacks served in the armed forces with distinction, making a Union victory possible. After the war, slavery was extinguished and black men gained the right to vote—key to full citizenship—and many won election to state legislatures in the North and South and to both houses of Congress. The key document of this transformation is the Emancipation Proclamation.

In celebration of this historic milestone, Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, office of President Drew Faust, the Houghton Library, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the Departments of African and African American Studies and American Civilization are joining with the National Park Service’s Boston National Historical Park, Boston African American National Historic Site and with the Museum of African American History and the Underground Railway Theater to celebrate the impact of the Proclamation and the recruitment of black soldiers in a hemispheric-wide context.
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