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For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights

September 1, 2018–October 20, 2018

For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights, a nationally touring exhibition from NEH on the Road, uses a compelling assortment of photographs, television clips, art posters, and historic artifacts to trace how images and media disseminated to the American public transformed the modern civil rights movement.

“…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

This visual culture 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.

Feature Image Caption: Ernest C. Withers, Sanitation Workers Assembling for a Solidarity March, Memphis, March 28, 1968, Gelatin silver print, 8 1/2 x 14 3/4 in., National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution, Museum Purchase.


For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights was curated by Dr. Maurice Berger, Research Professor, The Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore. It was co-organized by The Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture and the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. For All the World to See has been made possible through NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). It has been adapted and is being toured by Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA).

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