“For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights,” an exhibition that tells the story of the fight for racial equality from the 1940s through the 1970s with photographs, television clips, art posters, and historic artifacts, opened today at Laman Public Library, 2801 Orange St. in North Little Rock.
The touring show was curated by Dr. Maurice Berger of The Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and jointly organized by the center and the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution.
A news release explains the show’s origin:
“…we had averted our eyes for far too long, turning away from the ugly reality facing us as a nation. Let the world see what I’ve seen.” – Mamie Till Bradley
In September 1955, shortly after fourteen-year-old Emmett Till was murdered by white supremacists in Mississippi, his grieving mother, Mamie Till Bradley, distributed to newspapers and magazines a gruesome black-and-white photograph of his mutilated corpse. The mainstream media rejected the photograph as inappropriate for publication, but Bradley was able to turn to African-American periodicals for support. Asked why she would do this, Bradley explained that by witnessing, with their own eyes, the brutality of segregation, Americans would be more likely to support the cause of civil rights.
For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights, a nationally touring exhibition from NEH on the Road, opens on January 28, at the William F. Laman Public Library System. Through a compelling assortment of photographs, television clips, art posters, and historic artifacts, the exhibition 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 the immersive display 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.
Simeon Wright, Emmett Till’s cousin, who witnessed Till’s abduction, will be in North Little Rock Thursday, Jan. 31, for an appearance at Starving Artist’s “Tales from the South Dinner and a Show” talk. News release from Starving Artist on Wright on the jump.
The exhibit runs through March 16. Library hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and 1-5 p.m. Sun. Call 758-1720 for more information.