Spencer Crew has worked at museums as well as universities over the past twenty-five years. The Clarence J. Robinson Professor of American, African American, and Public History at George Mason University, he is the former director of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the former president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. His primary area of research interest is African American history, and he has created exhibitions and written on both the Underground Railroad and the migration of African Americans to the North during and after World War I. Crew served as interim director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2019 and 2020.
The last living generation of the formerly enslaved was interviewed by WPA interviewers in the 1930s. They offered a unique perspective on the enslaved experience which undermines suggestions that slavery was a benign institution. What they have to say is a powerful reminder of the inhumanity of the institution and the toll it took on the people forced to live under it.