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May 2024

emmett till
Emmett Till's mother, Mamie—​​​​​​pictured with her future husband Gene Mobley—​​​forced the nation to confront the horrors of Jim Crow-era racism when she chose to hold an open-casket funeral in Chicago, and allowed pictures to be taken of Emmett’s horribly disfigured body. Library of Congress

Editor’s Note: Dr. Lonnie G. Bunch, III is the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and the founding director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. The following essay was adapted from his introduction to the recent book Tragedy on Trial: The Story of the Infamous Emmett Murder Trial by Ron Collins.  

map of Lafayette's tour
The American Friends of Lafayette plans events in 290 towns and cities to reenact the original tour by the Marquis' 100 years ago.

The bicentennial of Lafayette’s national tour will kick off in mid-August 2024 with events organized by the American Friends of Lafayette (AFL), and following the route of his journey. With a wide variety of activities in 24 states lasting just over a year, Americans will once again have the opportunity to celebrate Lafayette. 

The bicentennial celebration will begin on August 16 in New York City. Commemorations will follow Lafayette’s footsteps through the then-existing states in the exact order that he traveled in 1824 and 1825.

powder house
Built in 1703 as a windmill and later repurposed as a storage space for gunpowder, the Old Powder House (rebuilt in 1920 and pictured here in 1935) stands in Somerville, Massachusetts on a small hilltop near Tufts University. National Park Service

There are dozens of places you could begin a time-traveling journey through the Revolutionary War. I chose a 300-year-old stone tower in Somerville, Massachusetts that looks like a giant bullet. Why? Because what happened there on September 1, 1774 could have sparked the war seven months early and kept the towns of Lexington and Concord out of the history books.

Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Reese is the author of the recently published book, Marquis de Lafayette Returns: A Tour of America's National Capital Region. She also serves as chair of The American Friends of Lafayette Bicentennial Committee for Washington, D.C. and is pursuing a graduate degree in history at Gettysburg College.

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