National Constitution Center Manager of Exhibition Development, Sarah Winski, and Exhibition Developer Elena Popchock discussed the museum’s new permanent exhibition, Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality which explores the ‘Second Founding’ and the writing, passage and impact of the Reconstruction Amendments. In this first exhibition in the country to address the Constitutional battles over slavery that led to the Civil War and how the Constitution was changed to reflect the ideal of the Declaration of Independence, original drafts and documents, interactive displays and historic objects tell the story of the period before the war and of the Reconstruction years. Ms Winski described how they approached the exhibit to explain the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments and their immediate effect – African Americans not just voting, but voting in strong numbers and achieving elected offices across the states. She noted that the effect was especially felt in the North, where they may have been free, but they were barred from voting. They spoke about the gradual whittling of the rights granted through poll taxes and other ways to impede voting, the rise of Jim Crow laws and the formation of the Ku Klux Klan when Reconstruction ended.
They told us how to get the most from the Museum and all of its exhibits, through education guides for teachers and parents to Town Hall lectures and discussions.
For more information about visiting the National Constitution Center go to constitutioncenter.org.