Activism

The van Gogh painting is one of the Courtauld Gallery’s best-known works.

Climate Activists Glue Themselves to Van Gogh Painting in London

The protesters hope to combat political inaction in the face of the climate crisis

At a time of widespread public health crises and evolving ideas about how illnesses spread, kissing was an easily avoidable vector of disease. Unfortunately for Imogene Rechtin, most people proved unwilling to give it up.

The Woman Who Fought to End the 'Pernicious' Scourge of Kissing

New understandings of how disease spread informed Imogene Rechtin's ill-fated 1910 campaign to ban a universal human practice

The archive of written work and speeches delivered by suffragists simply doesn’t indicate that abortion was at the forefront of discussions about women’s rights during the mid-19th to early 20th centuries.

History of Now

What Did the Suffragists Really Think About Abortion?

Contrary to contemporary claims, Susan B. Anthony and her peers rarely discussed abortion, which only emerged as a key political issue in the 1960s

Before the critical 1965 Supreme Court ruling Griswold v. Connecticut, state and federal morality laws prohibited access to contraceptives, even to married couples (above: a picketer protests the opening of a new Planned Parenthood Center in New Haven, Connecticut).

The Revolutionary 1965 Supreme Court Decision That Declared Sex a Private Affair

A Smithsonian curator of medicine and science looks back to the days when police could arrest couples for using contraception

A small library on Maine's Matinicus Island is actively collecting banned books in a challenge against recent political efforts to remove controversial literature off the shelves of libraries and school curriculums.

This Small Library Off the Coast of Maine Is Collecting Banned Books

With challenges to books in the United States at a high, the Matinicus Island Library is a remote haven for controversial literature

A typical Making the Road trip to South Africa includes a visit to Soweto, a township outside of Johannesburg that was the site of anti-apartheid organizing and violence for years.

Tourism Gets a Refresh in the Hands of Activists Seeking to Decolonize the Industry

Operators practicing 'solidarity tourism' push back against travel that can be environmentally and socially destructive

"Fathering" is a theme of the show, (above: Father and Son at Lake Michigan, detail, by Wayne F. Miller, 1946-1948) as crucial experience and wisdom is provided by fathers, uncles, teachers and coaches. 

How Black Men Changed the World

A Smithsonian traveling exhibition powerfully dismantles corrosive myths with triumphant portraits and the stories of African American men

"American Girl (above: the new doll Evette Peters) was seeking to emphasize to its young audience the importance of being able to envision themselves as part of the larger American story," writes the Smithsonian's Katrina Lashley. "And that vision requires more accessible histories, as well as role models in civic engagement."

Why This American Girl Doll Inspires Environmental Activism

The story of Evette Peters is bolstered by the Anacostia Community Museum's research into Washington D.C.'s local neighborhoods and urban waterways

The Bonhams sale features more than 1,000 books from the late Supreme Court justice's personal library.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Personal Library Is Up for Auction

The late Supreme Court justice's collection includes novels, law books, notes and other documents dating back to her youth

The Moores' younger daughter, Evangeline, donated this locket and other personal artifacts to the Smithsonian in 2013.

This Locket Memorializes a Black Activist Couple Murdered in a Christmas 1951 Bombing

Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore attracted the KKK's ire for their tireless promotion of civil rights in the Jim Crow South

A 1918 photo of a Christmas tree for horses in Washington, D.C.

When Humane Societies Threw Christmas Parties for Horses

Held across the U.S. in the early 20th century, the events sought to raise awareness for poor living conditions and offer the animals a holiday respite

Artists paint a mural near the Scottish Events Centre, which will be hosting the Climate Summit starting October 31 in Glasgow, Scotland. 

Five Important Questions About COP26 Answered

Representatives from nearly 200 nations are expected to meet and report on climate change promises made in the Paris Agreement

Claudette Colvin, pictured here in 1998, recently filed a request to have her arrest record expunged.

Claudette Colvin, Who Was Arrested for Refusing to Give Up Her Bus Seat in 1955, Is Fighting to Clear Her Record

The civil rights pioneer pushed back against segregation nine months before Rosa Parks' landmark protest but has long been overlooked

I Go To Prepare A Place For You (detail) by Bisa Butler, 2021

These Stunning Artworks Capture the Resilience—and Defiance—of Black Lives Matter

At NMAAHC's new show "Reckoning" Bisa Butler’s vivid Harriet Tubman joins works from Amy Sherald, Jean-Michel Basquiat and other prominent visual artists

Mary Ware Dennett wrote The Sex Side of Life in 1915 as a teaching tool for her teenage sons.

The Sex Education Pamphlet That Sparked a Landmark Censorship Case

Women's rights activist Mary Ware Dennett was arrested in 1929 for mailing a booklet deemed "obscene, lewd or lascivious"

The fire destroyed the property's porch, which was built more than 100 years ago but wasn't originally part of the house.

'Suspicious' Fire Destroys Porch at Susan B. Anthony House and Museum

Authorities are investigating the blaze, which left the New York landmark's historic interior and contents largely unscathed

During the 2017 Grocery Walk, more than 500 protestors demanded greater investment in food access programs and healthy food retail options in a local Washington D.C. community.

In a City Flush With Power and Wealth, D.C.'s Ward 8 Faces Food Inequity

Eleven percent of U.S. households experience hunger; an expansive, new exhibition focuses how a local community manages this national problem

Shaped mostly like a diamond, Washington, D.C. is organized by geographical divides centered on the U.S. Capitol and the White House, using mathematical principles employed by the original designer, Pierre Charles L’Enfant.

Track the Hidden Histories Lurking in the Street Names of Washington, D.C.

A new exhibition highlights the people behind some of the capital city’s roadways, plazas and parks

Del Martin, left, and Phyllis Lyon were officially wed June 16, 2008 in the first same-sex wedding to take place in San Francisco after legalization.

The Incredible Story of Lesbian Activists Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon

After first meeting in 1950, the couple was instrumental in founding the nation’s first organization for gay women

Members of the public take part in a blessing of the Lummi Nation totem pole in San Leandro, California, on June 3. The House of Tears Carvers toured the pole around the West Coast before embarking on a two-week journey to Washington, D.C.

Why Indigenous Activists Are Driving a 25-Foot Totem Pole Across the Country

Master carvers from the Lummi Nation, a Native tribe in Washington, crafted the 5,000-pound object from a single red cedar tree

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