Bessie Smith (detail) by Carl Van Vechten / Gelatin silver print, 1936 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution / © 1936 Carl Van Vechten Trust

Let Your Motto Be RESISTANCE: African American Portraits

May 11, 2007 - June 6, 2008

This is the inaugural exhibition of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The images were selected from the collection of the National Portrait Gallery. The theme; African American resistance across 150 years of American history.

Some black Americans thought the lack of racial justice needed to be challenged by any means necessary, including violence.  Others felt the best form of resistance was to confront discrimination wherever possible.  Many believed that resistance could be the highest form of patriotism.  In their beauty and power, the featured portraits resist the stereotypical depictions that fueled racism in America.

  • Let Your Motto Be RESISTANCE: African American Portraits

    View of "Let Your Motto Be RESISTANCE: African American Portraits." Photo by Mark Gulezian. 

  • Let Your Motto Be RESISTANCE: African American Portraits

    View of "Let Your Motto Be RESISTANCE: African American Portraits." Photo by Mark Gulezian. 

  • Let Your Motto Be RESISTANCE: African American Portraits

    View of "Let Your Motto Be RESISTANCE: African American Portraits." Photo by Mark Gulezian. 

  • Let Your Motto Be RESISTANCE: African American Portraits

    View of "Let Your Motto Be RESISTANCE: African American Portraits." Photo by Mark Gulezian.