No “Compact of Silence”: Black Civil Rights Advocates in the Harrison Era

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No “Compact of Silence”: Black Civil Rights Advocates in the Harrison Era

In 1888, Whitelaw Reid, who was Benjamin Harrison’s running mate for the upcoming presidential election, asked Harrison about his thoughts on black voting rights and the unrest and active suppression in the Southern States. Harrison replied, “I would not be willing myself to purchase the Presidency for a compact of silence upon this question.”

This special exhibit highlights national and local Black civil rights activists during President Benjamin Harrison’s term in office (1889-1893). It explores the complex dynamics of race in late 19th century America, including the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 in Chicago, anti-lynching laws and movements, and black voting suppression. Prominent individuals who will be featured include Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, William D. McCoy, Dolly Johnson and many more local and national advocates.

The exhibit will be open to the public and included with general admission from January 28 through November 1, 2022.

This exhibit is made possible through the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site’s New Century Curator collaboration with the IUPUI Museum Studies program. The initiative seeks to share the Presidential Site’s nationally significant collection in meaningful and relevant ways, while providing unique opportunities for emerging museum professionals to engage in collaborative training, hands-on experience, conservation, preservation, and innovative exhibit design.

 

“Equality is the golden thread that runs all through the fabric of our civil institutions — the dominating note in the swelling symphony of liberty.” Benjamin Harrison

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