A Change Is Gonna Come

Black, Indian, and White Voices for Racial Equality

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Freedom and Equality for All

For centuries, three main communities—Blacks, American Indians, and Whites—have interacted to shape North Carolina. This exhibition documents the actions of individuals and groups who have championed change in our state, continuously striving for a “more perfect Union.” 

Trouble in My Way

1830–1900

By 1830 North Carolina was part of a Union where most African Americans were enslaved, and American Indians were not regarded as citizens. It would take a bloody Civil War and a period of Reconstruction to begin addressing equality and freedom for everyone.

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People Get Ready

1901–1947

The 19th century ended with a coup d’état in North Carolina and the nation regressing on the promise of freedom and justice for each person. The systems of sharecropping and convict labor essentially replaced slavery. Citizenship and voting rights had been relegated to “Whites only.” It would take an emerging Civil Rights movement to eventually restore the promise of democracy.

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Tear Down These Walls

1948–1989

The post–World War II era saw America become a beacon of freedom with booming growth in North Carolina. Though for American Indians and African Americans, it would take a second Reconstruction in the form of a Civil Rights Act and a Voting Rights Act to redeem the dream of freedom.

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Still I Rise

1990–Present

Despite economic growth in North Carolina and expanded opportunities, many promises of the Civil Rights movement remain unfulfilled. North Carolina continues to strive for the reality of equality and freedom for all.

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