I’m often asked about my work at NURFC, and the most frequent question is one on the relevance the museum’s focus on slavery has for us today. My answer is simple and coincides with the name of my favorite film in our galleries: The Struggle Continues.
The film examines the continuing fight for freedom beginning with the end of chattel slavery in the United States at the conclusion of the Civil War. African Americans continued to have to fight for full participation and inclusion even after the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments supposedly guaranteed their rights and this film highlights the oppression of Jim Crow and the fight against oppression of the Civil Rights Movement that followed. But it also highlights the movements for equality and freedom that women, Latinos, Native Americans, and gays have created and continue today. It points out that worldwide, there is still a constant struggle to place every human on equal footing—that though chattel slavery was abolished, there are still 27 million people enslaved in the world today.
The fight for freedom continues. We have slaves to free and fellow humans to lift up out of the slavery of poverty, injustice, mass imprisonment, and inequality. We at NURFC believe that we must light the way to freedom and justice for all, but we have hope that, as the film quotes the poet Seamus Heaney, “once in a lifetime/The longed-for tidal wave/Of justice can rise up,/And hope and history rhyme.”
To watch “The Struggle Continues,” visit Invisible: Slavery Today on the third floor.
- Gina K. Armstrong, IMLS Coca-Cola Museum Studies Apprentice