This exhibition explores the years following the end of Reconstruction to show how the nation struggled to define the status of African Americans. This period represents a critical era for the United States and for African Americans. It puts to the test whether African Americans would have full citizenship rights after more than 250 years of enslavement.

Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: The Era of Segregation 1876-1968 captures the major aspects of that struggle and illustrates how African Americans not only survived the challenges set before them but crafted an important role for themselves in the nation.

It also looks at how the nation was changed as a consequence of these struggles and emerged from them more in sync with its pronouncements about freedom, equality, and democracy.