By Molly Glentzer | September 12, 2014

Every picture, letter, legal document and object in "African American Treasures From the Kinsey Collection" offers a window into a compelling story, illuminating centuries of struggle for freedom and equality. The exhibition also reflects positives, including the role of African-Americans in developing the country's aesthetic culture.

If you think you understand the history of slavery in America, the sight of a small set of shackles consider in a Lucite case stings. They're sized for girls, with a heavy bar of solid steel holding rings that would have permitted only a slow shuffle as they cut into the skin.

A letter written in 1854 by slave owner A.M.F. Crawford is painful to read. It was carried by Crawford's illiterate 17-year old servant Frances, on the way to a fate she may not have expected. Describing the girl as a very fine chambermaid, the owner reveals, "She does not know she is to be sold, I couldn't tell her; I own all her family and the leave-taking would be so distressing that I could not. Please say to her that... I was compelled to sell her to pay for the horses that I have bought, and to build my stable."

This story was featured in the Houston Chronicle. To read the article, click here.