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Dates: November 10, 2018—January 7, 2019
For All the World To See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights examines the role that visual culture played in shaping and transforming the struggle for racial equality in America from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s. Through a compelling assortment of photographs, television clips, art posters, and historic artifacts, this exhibit traces how images and media disseminated to the American public transformed the modern civil rights movement and jolted Americans, both black and white, out of a state of denial or complacency.
Visitors to this immersive exhibition will explore dozens of compelling and persuasive visual images, including photographs from influential magazines, such as Life, Jet, and Ebony; CBS news footage; and TV clips from The Ed Sullivan Show. Also included are civil rights-era objects that exemplify the range of negative and positive imagery—from Aunt Jemima syrup dispensers and 1930s produce advertisements to Jackie Robinson baseball ephemera and 1960s children’s toys with African American portraiture.
For All the World To See is not a history of the civil rights movement, but rather an exploration of the vast number of potent images that influenced how Americans perceived race and the struggle for equality. As Ebony founder John H. Johnson put it, magazines and television “opened new windows in the mind and brought us face to face with the multicolored possibilities of man and woman.”
A supplementary display focused on the local African American schools in Bristol – Douglass School in Virginia and Slater School in Tennessee – has been added to the exhibit. The Bristol Public Library will also have a display of books related to the movement and civil rights, for both children and adults, at the library throughout the exhibit.
This exhibition has been made possible through NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It has been adapted and is being toured by Mid-America Arts Alliance. For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights was organized by The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in partnership with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution.
Special thanks to the YWCA of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, the Bristol Public Library, the staff of the Mid-America Arts Alliance, Wilhelmina Banks, Jewel Bell, Buckey Boone, Thomas Bryant, Steven L. Davis Sr., Martin Dotterweich, Joy Fulkerson, Carshonda Harris, Patricia Gonzalez, Dan Gray, Varley Hickman, Jerry Hill, John Hogans, Rita Howard, W. A. Johnson, Jerry Jones, Robert Kariuki, Amy Kimani, Jerry Kincaid, Larry Kirksey, Rayburn Leeper, Asia Malone, Tina McDaniel, Jackie Nophlin, April Norris, Sam Page, Georgia Polk, Vivian Releford, Lisa Seaborn, Langley Shazor, Alana Simmons, Calvin Sneed, Amy Stephenson, Randy White, Danianese Woods, and Mike Young for their input to and support of the For All the World to See exhibit and programming. Working with our community has helped strengthen this exhibit and its impact.