By Frederick H. Lowe
Original copies of two historical documents of crucial importance to the lives of African Americans are now on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
Original copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution are on display as part of the “Slavery and Freedom” exhibition in Concourse One of the museum.
The Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment are among the most important documents in the history of the United States. President Abraham Lincoln issued The Emancipation Proclamation, which took effect on January 1, 1863, freeing slaves in 10 rebellious states during the Civil War.
The 13th Amendment, which passed Congress on December 6, 1865, made slavery illegal in the United States.
In the critically acclaimed 2016 documentary “13th,” about the Amendment, director Ava DuVerny said slavery has been perpetuated in practices since the end of the American Civil War through laws such as Jim Crow.
“These two original documents show a nation in transition: they mark a powerful shift in America’s relation to the millions of enslaved blacks who had been bought and sold and considered property,” said Lonnie C. Bunch, III, the museum’s founding director.
The Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment are on loan to the museum from philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, Smithsonian Regent and co-founder and co-executive chairman of The Carlyle Group, a Washington D.C. -investment firm with $178 billion in assets.