The Civil War is often considered the “second American Revolution” and viewed as a rebirth of freedom. This second revolution included emancipation from an institution that had kept 4 million black people, over a quarter-million in North Carolina, in bondage.

Those emancipated set out to claim freedoms: to be families, to better themselves, to make a living, and to experience the rights of equal citizenship and the dignity accorded existence as people rather than property.

These attempts to remake lives—and, in the process, remake a nation—are known as the time of “Reconstruction.” In North Carolina, however, the expansion of freedoms was limited and cut short by a backlash of racism and terrorism.


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Stedman Graham visits the NC Museum of History to loan a sword belonging to George Henry White

Interview with Earl Ijames, Consulting Curator for the Exhibit

Reconstruction and the Struggle for Racial Equality, a conversation with Brooks Simpson, PhD, professor American history, Arizona State University

Simpson’s edited collection of more than 120 speeches, newspaper and magazine articles, letters, and other period writings provides a sweeping view of the hope and despair that existed during the tumultuous period in American history following the Civil War, a time known as Reconstruction. Approximate run time: 37 minutes.

Ku-Klux and the Birth of the Klan, a conversation with Elaine Frantz, professor of American history, Kent State University

Six former Confederate soldiers organized a social club in 1866. It would become one of the most notorious white-supremacy groups in modern history. Frantz lends her historical insights by examining this group—based in the South yet influenced by northern culture and newspaper coverage. Approximate run time: 32 minutes.