WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- The National Gallery of Art's latest exhibition tells the story of the first official African American Regiment in the Union Army.
Vintage photographs, hand-written notes, and a Medal of Honor; are among some of the artifacts on display at the gallery.
At a pre-opening event, many came to celebrate this occasion, including Col. Fern O. Sumpter, who is the Joint Base Commander at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia.
"Surreal, incredible, spectacular...difficult," she says of her role as a successful woman in the U.S. Army.
It's the challenges that drive her to be at the post she is today, giving a speech at the National Gallery of Arts, 150 years after President Abraham Lincoln ordered the Emancipation Proclamation, after which the first official African American Regiment was formed.
"I want you to prove yourselves, the eyes of thousands will look on what you do tonight," she reads the words of Col. Robert Shaw which he spoke to the 54th Massachusetts Regiment before they charged at Morriss Island in Charleston, South Carolina.
Today, Col. Sumpter is proving that being an African American has no boundaries.
She is only one of two females to hold this position and the first African American woman to do so.
"For this I thank the brave soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment and all of the African American soldiers, sailors and airmen and marines who followed and proved that the color of our skin cannot be used to measure our intellect, our courage or our ability," she said.