Movement Leaders

Three miners with federal soldier prepare to surrender weapons.

What Made the Battle of Blair Mountain the Largest Labor Uprising in American History

Its legacy lives on today in the struggles faced by modern miners seeking workers' rights

The statue is finally being unveiled this week after a seven-year fundraising effort and a three-year construction effort.

Women Who Shaped History

Chicago's First Monument to a Black Woman Will Commemorate Activist Ida B. Wells

Sculptor Richard Hunt designed the statue, which is called 'Light of Truth'

Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti leave jail at Dedham, Mass., en route to the courthouse where they are to be sentenced by Judge Webster Thayer to die in the electric chair.

Sacco and Vanzetti's Trial of the Century Exposed Injustice in 1920s America

The pair's path to becoming media sensations began 100 years ago. To this day the two remain emblems of prejudice in the American justice system

An illustration from an abolitionist paper shows the divide in border states like Ohio, where a small African American minority petitioned for change.

Decades Before the Civil War, Black Activists Organized for Racial Equality

Though they were just a small percentage of the state’s population, African Americans petitioned the state of Ohio to repeal racist laws

Harriet Tubman (left) and Elizabeth Keckley (right) are two of the many inspiring figures featured in historian Tamika Nunley's new book.

How Black Women Brought Liberty to Washington in the 1800s

A new book shows us the capital region's earliest years through the eyes and the experiences of leaders like Harriet Tubman and Elizabeth Keckley

Martin Luther King Jr. and Reverend Ralph Abernathy are taken in for questioning by Birmingham police in 1962.

Cool Finds

Rare Birmingham Jail Logbook Pages Signed by MLK Resurface After Decades

Two sheets of paper from the Alabama prison where the activist penned a famous 1963 letter sold at auction for more than $130,000

The exhibition is on view near a neighborhood recreation center that holds classes and homework time, even during the pandemic, and an all-boys high school. "I just feel like this block amplifies all of the messages expressed in the exhibit," says one of the show's organizers.

In a Covid-Affected Washington, D.C. Neighborhood, Black History Is Reinterpreted on a City Block

A powerful outdoor exhibition amplifies a message of "pride, tenacity and possibility"

A group of freed African American men along a wharf during the Civil War.

How to Tell 400 Years of Black History in One Book

From 1619 to 2019, this collection of essays, edited by two of the nation's preeminent scholars, shows the depth and breadth of African American history

Jane Johnson emancipated herself and her children by walking away from her former "master", John Hill Wheeler, into the free city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Courageous Tale of Jane Johnson, Who Risked Her Freedom for Those Who Helped Her Escape Slavery

A dramatic court scene in Philadelphia put the abolitionist cause in headlines across the nation

The Netflix film features Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Bobby Seale and Mark Rylance as lawyer William Kunstler.

The True Story of 'The Trial of the Chicago 7'

Aaron Sorkin's newest movie dramatizes the clash between protestors on the left and a federal government driven to making an example of them

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, left, and Cuban President Fidel Castro, center, are seen outside the Hotel Theresa in the Harlem neighborhood of New York.

Fidel Castro Stayed in Harlem 60 Years Ago to Highlight Racial Injustice in the U.S.

The Cuban revolutionary shined a light on the stark economic disparities in America, much to the chagrin of the U.S. government

On December 17, 1979, motorcyclist Arthur McDuffie was murdered by police, who were later acquitted. Nearly 5,000 people convene in downtown Miami to protest.

The Long, Painful History of Racial Unrest

A lethal incident of police brutality in Miami in 1979 offers just one of countless examples of the reality generations of African Americans have faced

Demonstration on May Day with antifascist banners, on May 1, 1929 in New York.

A Brief History of Anti-Fascism

As long as the ideology has threatened marginalized communities, groups on the left have pushed back with force

Protesters hold signs during a demonstration in a call for justice for George Floyd, who was killed while in custody of the Minneapolis police.

Secretary Lonnie Bunch: It Is Time for America to Confront Its Tortured Racial Past

This moment, says the Smithsonian secretary, should be the 'impetus for our nation to address racism and social inequities in earnest'

Paul Rivet addresses a congress of the French Socialist 
Party on July 2, 1948.

The Museum Director Who Defied the Nazis

For years, Paul Rivet opposed the ideology fueling Hitler's rise. Then he helped French fighters take the battle underground

Look at those good doggos.

How Dog Parks Took Over the Urban Landscape

Birthed from the counterculture of the ’60s, the pet playground has witnessed a major shift in how Americans relate to their canines

Ernesto Guevara cruises by an image of his father on a building in Havana's Plaza of the Revolution, one of the larges public squares in the world.

Tony Perrottet's Cuba

Roaring Through Cuba With Che Guevara's Son

What's Ernesto Guevara, son of the world's most recognizable revolutionary, doing on a Harley Davidson? Leading a whirlwind tour around his native island

The type of socialism that took root in Oklahoma was unique—it allowed private farms and invoked evangelical Christianity.

Secrets of American History

When the Socialist Revolution Came to Oklahoma—and Was Crushed

Inside the little-known story of the Green Corn Rebellion, which blazed through the Sooner State a century ago

Mary Mildred Williams again takes center stage in Jessie Morgan-Owens’ new book Girl in Black and White.

The Enslaved Girl Who Became America's First Poster Child

In 1855, Mary Mildred Williams energized the abolitionist movement

The co-founders of the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, Mily Treviño-Sauceda and Mónica Ramírez (foreground), stand with members of Líderes Campesinas on a farm in Oxnard, California.

2018 Smithsonian Ingenuity Awards

The Time's Up Initiative Built Upon the Work Done by These Labor Activists

How the leaders of a farmworkers' alliance reached across cultural divides to fight sexual harassment

loading icon