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“Making a Way Out of No Way” is an expression in the African American community that reveals power of community. Whether through church congregations or labor organizations, sewing circles or sororities; through intellect, grit, and resilience, community makes the impossible possible.

Collection Objects

Learn these stories or see more objects that showcase to the power of community in our collections

Colorful quilt depicting Mary Moran of Harris Neck, Georgia, and Baindu Jabati, a Mende woman of Sierra Leone, standing at a graveside. Strips of African fabrics frame the quilt.

The Song That Connected Two Women across Time

Juliette Gordon Low wears a pink, gauzy dress and she sits for a formal painted portrait.

Juliette Gordon Low Envisioned a Broad-Based Girl Scout Movement

Outdoor scene of an incarceration camp, including telephone wires across the camp, two dwelling units, and a row of trees. There are no people pictured.

Kay Sekimachi Found Solace in Art While Interned

Blue dress made of shiny synthetic fabric with silver, red, and brown accents. Metal cones adorn the skirt. Above the left breast sits a patch that reads "Never Forgotten SPC Lori Piestewa."

What U.S Army Veteran Mitchelene BigMan Wore to a Presidential Inaugural Parade

Pink dress with bell sleeves and a full skirt. The dress includes beading and sequins in floral designs.

Coming of Age, Latina Style

An Alpha Kappa Alpha metal pin with a pin back. The pin is a circular gold ring with gold ivy leaves at center. The bottom portion of the circle has "A K A" on it and a diamond, while the top half of the pin has lettering that reads "Alpha Kappa Alpha."

Finding Solidarity and Self-Sufficiency through Black Sororities

Conversation Kit

Let's Talk! Women’s Land Army of World War II Conversation Kit
Women’s Land Army of World War II Teaching and Discussion Guide

Grades 6-12. Time: Variable (1-3 class periods). Aligned to C3 standards.

In this lesson students will learn about the Woman's Land Army of America during World War II and how this group of dedicated women fueled the United States's massive war effort. Students will examine the question: How can communities shape the direction of history?


Johnnetta B. Cole highlights the contributions to society and the influential fashion styles of two prominent community and civil rights leaders, Dorothy Height and Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.

In New York City's Chinatown, college student Regina Lee and other volunteers organized a neighborhood health fair to improve health literacy in their community. 

The Women's Collective in Washington, D.C., holds a "Call My Name" quilting workshop to include women of color in the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Hear how this project promotes representation and healing in the community.

Noriko Sanefuji, Museum Specialist at the National Museum of American History, speaks about World War II-era artifacts that represent the community life of incarcerated Japanese Americans. 

Smithsonian American Women book cover.

Smithsonian American Women

Remarkable objects and stories of strength, ingenuity, and vision from the National Collection.

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