The Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African-American History and Culture exhibits a stone once used as a slave auction block in Hagerstown. We discuss slave auctions of enslaved and free blacks in western Maryland and the fissures still felt from those sales. Our guest is Mary Elliott, a museum specialist at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. She helped research, conceptualize, and design the “Slavery and Freedom” exhibition at the museum, where the auction block is housed.
Then: civil rights activist Laura W. Murphy discovers a bundle of papers tied with a ribbon. They turn out to be letters between her great-grandparents, written when they were courting in Reconstruction-era Baltimore. They provide a glimpse into what life was like for a particularly successful African-American family in Baltimore, just a few years after the end of the Civil War.