By Ava-joye Burnett

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — America is once again facing a racial reckoning after a mass shooting this past weekend in Buffalo, New York. The attack against a predominantly Black community is being investigated as a hate crime.

As that tragedy is being investigated, a Baltimore museum is preparing to open a new exhibit that focuses on the continued fight for civil rights.

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The Maryland Center for History and Culture on Park Avenue in Baltimore has a mission to educate a new generation.

Allison Tollman told WJZ that the new exhibit will highlight Maryland’s contributions to the struggle for equality.

“The Civil Rights was generational and that . . . it happened here in Baltimore. It happened here in Maryland, and it still continues to happen here today,” said Allison Tollman with the Maryland Center for History and Culture.

The exhibit focuses on Maryland’s rich but sometimes unknown historic ties to the civil rights movement. In 1968, Gov. Spiro Agnew locked up nearly 300 students who marched for better conditions at Bowie State University.

That struggle happened nearly half a century before a settled lawsuit in 2021 that will provide millions in new funding for historically Black universities in Maryland.

In the 1950s, local college students challenged racist systems by conducting sit-ins at segregated restaurants years before the lunch counter protests down south.

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“Morgan State College was at the center of that, other schools participating—Johns Hopkins University had some people participating in the 1950s and into the 1960s,” Dr. David Terry, an author and history professor at Morgan State University, said.

The exhibit features audio recordings of everyday Marylanders telling stories in their own words. College professors say their students are desperate to learn more.

“I think I’ve heard from many, many students, the idea that they feel like they’ve been denied that history somewhat, that they haven’t been given enough of it, that they’ve been taught it in a way that’s maybe a little too narrow,” Dr. Joshua Clark Davis, a history professor at the University of Baltimore, said.

The fight for equality continues today. We saw it in 2020 after George Floyd’s murder.

After the mass shooting in Buffalo this past weekend—which is now being investigated as a hate crime—the exhibit will attempt to break down barriers as the fight to live as equals in America rages on.

“It lets you know that so much more needs to be done,” Professor Linda Day Clark, a visual artist and also a professor at Coppin State University, said. “And these people, often that we’re honoring in an exhibition like this, are our elders. So it’s on us now. Now it’s on the youth to make sure they keep the struggle real.”

The exhibit opens this Friday and will feature dozens of stories of Marylanders from then and now.

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Ava-joye Burnett