Most of us are familiar with images of the Civil Rights Movement. We think of the people on the March from Selma to Montgomery; Rosa Parks on the bus; the screaming faces of white students and parents as the Little Rock Nine integrated the high school. But what about our regional Civil Rights Movement? What images circulated here in the 1950s and 1960s of events in the Carolinas?
The Levine Museum of the New South’s current exhibition, “Focus on Justice,” displays just that. Curated by photographer Byron Baldwin, “Focus on Justice” features 24 photographs of the regional struggle for Civil Rights as captured through the cameras of Don Sturkey, Bruce Roberts, James Peeler and Cecil Williams. Each photographer is represented by a brief bio, a story of their experience photographing protests and sit-ins as well as a selection of photos.
“The photographers represented in this exhibit witnessed history being made. These photographs of courageous young people who challenged the existing social order and of those who resisted that change illustrate a significant pivotal point in our history,” noted Baldwin. Furthermore, he states “we are indebted to the photographers who spread the word of this struggle through their images, and recorded these events for history.” In fact, as the intro panel explains, it was the photographs of protests, as much as the protests themselves, that reached wide audiences, helping Americans understand African Americans’ struggle and the need for change.
“Focus on Justice” is on view until January 26, 2014. It is part of the Levine Museum’s larger project, “Destination Freedom: Civil Rights Struggles Then and Now,” a two-year series of exhibits and programs commemorating the significant milestones and anniversaries of the Civil Rights Movement. After viewing “Focus on Justice,” don’t miss the upcoming New South for the New Southerner program “Don Sturkey’s Charlotte,” which will showcase Charlotte as captured by long-time photographer for the Charlotte Observer. This program is scheduled for January 9, 2014.
Levine Museum of the New South: 200 E. 7th St., Charlotte; 704-333-1887; www.museumofthenewsouth.org