Highlights from the Collection with a Sense of Place - VR Edition

Costume for the Wizard in The Wiz on Broadway
Designed by Geoffrey Holder

In 1975, ‘The Wiz: The Supersoul Musical “Wizard of Oz”' opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre. This costume was designed by Geoffrey Holder and worn by André De Shields, who played the Wizard in the original production. Holder won Tony awards for "Director - Musical" and "Costume Designer" of ‘The Wiz’.

The Wizard's Costume from The Wiz

The Majestic Theater
New York City, New York

The opening night cast included R&B singer Stephanie Mills and Hinton Battle, who would later appear in Dreamgirls and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The Wiz at The Majestic Theater

5th St Boxing Gym
Miami, Florida

Owned by Chris “The Wizard of Oz” Dundee, the 5th St. Gym (known as Oz) was already famous when Chris’s brother Angelo “The Prince of Oz” brought Cassius Clay in to train in 1960. Some argue that the gym and its vibrant neighborhood inspired Clay to take his first steps toward becoming Muhammad Ali.

5th St. Boxing Gym

Boxing headgear worn by Muhammad Ali
Everlast Worldwide, Inc.

According to the owner, the gym "created countless world champions, such as Carmen Basilio, Willie Pastrano and the greatest of them all, Cassius Clay-who then became . . . Muhammad Ali.

Boxing Headgear worn by Muhammad Ali

Frederick Douglass Ambrotype

In 1877, Frederick Douglass purchased a house, Cedar Hill, in Southeast Washington, DC, where he lived from 1878 until his death in 1895.

Frederick Douglass Ambrotype

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
Cedar Hill, Anacostia,
Washington, District of Columbia

Expanded into an elegant 21-room mansion, Cedar Hill was a symbol of Douglass's success and today preserves his legacy as the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site.

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

Inside Cedar Hill

In the West Parlor of Cedar Hill are portraits of Frederick Douglass and his first wife Anna Murray-Douglass, a bust of abolitionist Wendell Phillips, and Douglass’s checkerboard and music box.

Inside Cedar Hill

16th Street Baptist Church
1530 6th Avenue North,
Birmingham, Alabama

The 16th St. Baptist Church's website notes, "On Sunday, September 15, 1963, at 10:22 a.m., the church became known around the world when a bomb exploded, killing four young girls attending Sunday School and injuring more than 20 other members of the congregation.

16th Street Baptist Church

Ten shards of stained glass
16th Street Baptist Church

These glass shards were collected from the gutter outside the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, at the time of the funeral for the four girls killed.

Ten Shards of Stained Glass

Panoramic print of a refugee camp
at Yazoo City during the Mississippi River flood of 1927
Produced by Illinois Central Railroad

This panorama is part of the Illinois Central Railroad’s extensive documentation of the damage caused by the 1927 Mississippi River flood. The most destructive flood in U.S. history, it affected people in states along the Mississippi River from Illinois to Louisiana. More than 200,000 African Americans were displaced and forced into Red Cross refugee camps like this one on the bluffs of Yazoo City, MS. The flood and its aftermath accelerated the Great Migration, the movement of thousands of African Americans to northern cities.

Panoramic print of a refugee camp at Yazoo City

Bridge over the Yazoo River
Yazoo, Mississippi, United States

The bluffs of Yazoo City look out over the Yazoo River, which flows into, and flooded with, the Mississippi River in 1927. The Yazoo River floodplain is considered by some to be the southern boundary of the Mississippi Delta, which was covered with cotton plantations prior to the Civil War.

Yazoo River

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama, was the primary flight training site of the Tuskegee Airmen. The field is now home to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. The fighter planes used by the Airmen had distinctive red tails, and their pilots earned a popular nickname, the “Red Tails.” But as the National Park Service website notes, "Before the first African American military pilots became known as the "Red Tails" they wore striped tails as they began their flight training in the Army's PT-17 Stearman bi-plane.

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

Training aircraft used by Tuskegee Institute
Manufactured by Boeing Corporation

At Moton Field, this PT-13D Stearman Kaydet aircraft was used to train the famed Tuskegee Airmen, who courageously fought the Luftwaffe in the skies above Europe and battled segregation and racism at home during WWII.

Air Force pilot Mathew Quy restored the aircraft and flew it across the country to deliver it to the Smithsonian.

Training Aircraft used by Tuskegee Institute

Jacket and skirt worn by Marian Anderson
during her 1939 Lincoln Memorial concert

In 1939 the Daughters of the American Revolution barred Marian Anderson from singing to an integrated audience in their Washington, DC, concert venue, Constitution Hall. At First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s urging, Anderson was invited instead to perform on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This is the custom designed jacket and skirt she wore during that performance.

Marian Anderson Jacket and Skirt

Marian Anderson Sings at the Lincoln Memorial

At 5:00 p.m., Marian Anderson's voice mesmerized the crowd as she sang: “My Country tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Liberty of thee We Sing.” Anderson’s slight change in the lyric, “I” to “We” perfectly captured the significance of the moment, echoing the collective sense of responsibility shared by all on that day. 75,000 people attended, joined on the radio by millions more.

Marion Anderson Sings at the Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial Steps

In the photo of her performance, Marian Anderson stands on the landing just down this first flight of steps. More than two decades later, Martin Luther King would deliver his "I Have A Dream" speech just steps away.

Lincoln Memorial Steps

Door with rescue markings from Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina and the breached levees surrounding New Orleans flooded 80% of the city. Rescue crews inspected buildings one-by-one, relying on a standard FEMA code chart to indicate inspection date, hazards, casualties, and other information. In 2014, this door was discovered on an unreconstructed building in the Broadmoor district, a predominantly African American neighborhood.

New Orleans FEMA-coded Door

The now renovated home at 4405 Eden Street, Orleans Parish, New Orleans, Louisiana.

National Museum of African American History and Culture
Credits: Story

Laura Coyle, Michèle Gates Moresi, and Douglas Remley
Office of Curatorial Affairs,
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Marc Bretzfelder
Smithsonian Institution
Office of the Chief Information Officer

Sharon Wilkinson
Voice Artist

Project Manager
Adam Austin
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Sound Effects

Music from YouTube
Marian Anderson Sings "My Country, Tis of Thee"
Newsreel footage from the UCLA Film and Television Archive
1968 Olympic Anthem
Bugler's Dream
composed by Leo Arnaud

Otis Spann
Blues for Martin Luther King

U.S. National Anthem
United States Army Band

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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