Past "From Fights to Rights" Exhibits

  • The Virginia Council of Human Relations (VCHR) was a bi-racial organization that worked to foster communication and improve relations between blacks and whites. The exhibit highlights a few Williamsburg members and the VCHR's work in the areas of school desegregation and fair employment practices.
  • At the beginning of the Civil War, medicine was at a crossroads. Researchers were only beginning to recognize the role of microorganisms in causing disease and the importance of antiseptic conditions in surgery. There were many competing theories of medicine in 1861, but a majority of doctors practiced medicine based on the centuries-old “four humors” theory. This theory held that keeping the body’s four humors—black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood—in proper balance was the key to good health. Doctors kept the humors in balance by bloodletting or administering purgatives or emetics to their sick patients.
  • “the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,--a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness,--an American, a Negro; two warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”
  • The end of the Civil War brought the passage of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) made “separate but equal” the law of the land. Materials in the exhibit show the racism prevalent in the United States and the legal decisions that began to chip away at the problem. Included are images of the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, segregated facilities, sub-standard classrooms and a copy of the Brown v. Board decision as well as letters found in Virginia politician’s papers in the Special Collections Research Center.
  • The Civil War and the years leading up to it are among the most studied periods in American history. Many of the interpretations of the coming of the War may be grouped into one of two major schools of thought: Irrepressible Conflict or Blundering Generation. The Irrepressible Conflict school argues that the North and South were becoming such different societies that they could no longer co-exist in one nation, and war was the inevitable consequence. However, the historians of this school do not all agree on what the crucial differences were between North and South. The Blundering Generation school argues that radically different societies can co-exist without going to war. Instead, a series of mistakes and misjudgments by a “blundering generation” of politicians allowed extremists to dominate, leading eventually to war.
  • The history of slavery at the College of William & Mary is almost as old as the College itself. William & Mary owned slaves on its plantation at Nottoway Quarter, leased land to farmers, had slaves cut wood and run errands into Williamsburg, and even let students bring their own slaves to campus (provided they paid a fee).