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Indiana State Museum exhibit showcases Lincoln, King’s work for justice

Multicultural Spotlight: Exhibit showcases Lincoln, King work for justice

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Influencers of justice are on display at the Indiana State Museum.

The 60th anniversary of the March on Washington is Saturday.

The museum’s exhibit helps show how symbols of President Abraham Lincoln’s work is found throughout Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963. Roughly 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, King delivered a piece of history at the Lincoln Memorial.

Influential Black leaders helped inspire Lincoln’s work and continue to pursue goals laid out more than a century ago.

“The Influencing Lincoln, the Pursuit of Black Freedom” exhibit is open at the Indiana State Museum, outlining Black leaders influence on Lincoln’s work for emancipation.

Kisha Tandy, museum curator, said, “During the time that these individuals were fighting during the 1860s to 1870s, they knew that freedom was not enough. They knew that citizenship is power.”

She says the exhibit chronicles the history of the Emancipation Proclamation, in part showcasing Frederick Douglass‘ influence in altering the initial draft to allow enslaved people to fight in to the Civil War.

“Having that as a change, that was a direct influence, from having individuals like Frederick Douglas, who were looking to recruit, who were looking to bring Black men to fight.”

The exhibit also covers the wider fight for freedom and modern-day civil rights.

Finishing up the exhibit is Martin Luther King Jr.’s part of the story with the March on Washington. His speech includes this line: “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.”

“He is at the Lincoln Memorial, within the first sentence of it. He referenced the Emancipation Proclamation. So, he is looking back, but also looking forward and pressing on for more progress.”

A 160-year difference separates today from Lincoln, and, as we approach the anniversary of another moment in history, Tandy says, King knew then that more was to come. “He is noting and reflecting on the work that many individuals were doing during the 1860s, 1863 specifically, but also noting that more work needed to be done.”

The exhibit will run through Oct. 29. It’s free with the purchase of museum admission, which ranges from $13 to $19.