When Indiana-native Benjamin Harrison was asked about his thoughts on Black voter suppression in Southern states prior to his election in 1888, he responded, "I would not be willing myself to purchase the Presidency for a compact of silence upon this question." That makes it fitting that the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site has a new exhibit honoring the Black Civil Rights movement leaders of Harrison's time.
During his time in office, Harrison would appoint African-American leaders like Frederick Douglass and William D. McCoy to office; support the Lodge Bill opposing Black voter suppression, and propose the first federal anti-lynching law.
Opening just ahead of Black History Month in February, the No "Compact of Silence:" Black Civil Rights Advocates in the Harrison Era special exhibit recognizes and celebrates the work of valued advocates of color who lived and worked around the time of Harrison's Presidential term between 1889 to 1893.
At the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site in Indianapolis, the exhibit takes an in-depth look at timely topics such as American race dynamics in the late 19thcentury, anti-lynching legislation and the suppression of Black voting rights. Journalist Ida B. Wells, Senator Blanche Kelso Bruce, cyclist Marshall "Major" Taylor, White House executive chef Laura "Dolly" Johnson and Marion County NAACP leader Katherine Bailey are just a few of the figures included in a diverse and intriguing collection of displayed materials.
This exhibit is made possible through the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site's New Century Curator collaboration with the IUPUI Museum Studies program. This initiative strives to share the site's nationally renowned collection in innovative, meaningful and relevant ways.
No "Compact of Silence:" Black Civil Rights Advocates in the Harrison Era launches Jan. 27, 2022, and will remain on display until Nov. 1, 2022; access is included as part of Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site general admission. For more information, visit PresidentBenjaminHarrison.org.