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National Museum of African American History and Culture to honor 160th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

The museum will do a Netflix documentary screening with the film's director and showcase pieces like an original handwritten signed copy of the 13th Amendment.

WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) will be kicking off the New Year by recognizing the 160th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation with a film screening, as well as encouraging visitors to reflect on the importance of that time in history by checking out unique artifacts that symbolize the era. 

The museum will host a screening of the recently released Netflix film Descendant Saturday, Jan. 7 at 2 p.m., presented by the museum’s public programs department and the Robert F. Smith Explore Your Family History Center. 

According to organizers, the film, which debuted on Netflix in October, documents the search and recovery of the Clotilda, the last known ship to arrive in the United States illegally carrying enslaved Africans, in Mobile, Alabama. 

Plus, after the film, attendees are invited to engage in a panel discussion moderated by Elliott and featuring Margaret Brown, director of the film; Kern Jackson, co-writer and co-producer of the film; Veda Tunstall and Joycelyn Davis, descendants of passengers of the Clotilda; and executive producer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. 

Although admission is free, registration is required.

Visitors are welcome to view words featured in early copies of a handheld pamphlet of the Emancipation Proclamation, an original signed copy of President Abraham Lincoln’s Executive Order and an original handwritten signed copy of the 13th Amendment, all on display in the museum’s “Slavery and Freedom” exhibition. 

“It is important that we remember the hard-fought battle for freedom and what it took to ensure freedom for all,” said Mary Elliott, curator of American slavery at the museum. 

“The Emancipation Proclamation did not free all enslaved people. Yet, it was foundational in the march toward freedom, and it struck a mighty blow to the system of slavery. The 13th Amendment finally knocked out slavery in the nation.”  

Learn more about the historic Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment by clicking here.


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