Elvatrice Parker Belsches, is the curator, historian and researcher for “Forging Freedom, Justice and Equality,” a new exhibit at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia that comemmorates the museum’s 40th anniversary. Divided into six parts, the show features photographs, first-person narratives and artifacts from the museum and private collections. The six parts also look at Black life before the Civil War, including a ledger from the 1840s that offers insight into the experiences of free Black people in Richmond. Other parts of the exhibit focus on the Black church, educational achievements and Black experiences in the military and in the arts, sports and entertainment. The final part looks at the Black experience in business and in organizations and the role of Black newspapers and magazines. Highlights of the exhibit, the museum stated, include the papers of George Lewis Ruffin, a Richmond native who in 1869 became the first Black graduate of Harvard University’s law school. He went on to become a Massachusetts judge and the first elected Black member of Boston’s City Council. The exhibit, which is subtitled “A Survey of the History of the Black Experience in Virginia,” is open now through April 29, 2023, at the museum, located in Jackson Ward at 122 West Leigh St.