If you picture the Victorian era in America, what do you see? Probably the Wild West, or maybe some dude in a top hat.

But the late-1800s were also a hotbed of activism and civil rights struggles, especially among women and African-Americans. History books tend to name a select few, like Sojourner Truth or Booker T. Washington.

But the truth is, we forget that real change is only possible thanks to the labor of countless individuals.

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Back in late October, I wrote a story about 17 photos of black Victorians who showed how history really looked.

I scoured various online archives, historical records, and so forth to dig up what I could about the subjects of these stunning photographs, which I hoped would challenge people's historical perceptions of race, fashion, and social norms.

The reader response was tremendous.

Hundreds of thousands of people read and shared the story. People love to warn you not to read the comments (and sometimes rightly so), but in this case, the comments were downright inspiring.

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When you think about America's Gilded Age, what do you imagine?

Perhaps you see images of "Little House on the Prairie"? Or photos of dapper gentlemen and women dressed in frilly lace, riding steam engine trains across the country?

Most of us equate the fashion and social norms of that time period with the latter Victorian era that occurred in the U.K. around the same time. And that's not in-accurate, per se ... except for the part where we tend to assume that everyone was white.

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