For All the World to See

10.06.2011 - 27.11.2011


National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution
Capital Gallery
600 Maryland Avenue SW
Suite 7001
Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA
Tel: 202.633.7369


For all the world to see
All Power to the People: The Story of the Black Panther Party, 1970, Frank Cieciorka (Artist), Pamphlet, Peoples Press, San Francisco, Collection of Civil Rights Archive/CADVC-UMBC, Baltimore, MD

For All The World To See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights is the first exhibition to explore the role played by visual images in shaping, influencing, and transforming the fight for civil rights in the United States. The struggle for racial justice in the United States was fought as assuredly on television, in movies, magazines, and newspapers, and through the artifacts and images of everyday life as it was on the streets of Montgomery, Little Rock or Watts. The movement produced myriad images in multiple formats and sensibilities and in various contexts, from the modest newsletters of local black churches to televised news reports on the state of American race relations. The exhibition looks at images in a range of venues and forms, tracking the ways they represented race in order to perpetuate the status quo, stimulate dialogue, or change prevailing beliefs and attitudes.

The visual culture is particularly relevant to the modern civil rights movement, a struggle coextensive with the birth of television, the increasing popularity of color photography, and the blossoming of picture magazines and other forms of mass media. It was in this period that powerful visual images infiltrated the culture at large—locally and nationally—against a backdrop of extraordinary events: segregationist bombings and the lynching of black people; race riots, sit-ins, marches, and boycotts; turbulent political campaigns; groundbreaking US Supreme Court rulings on segregation, voting rights, and miscegenation; the unending campaign of white resistance, exemplified by the activities of the Ku Klux Klan, John Birch Society, and States Rights movement; the murder of anti-racist activists and the assassination of civil rights leaders; the stubbornness of de-facto segregation; the rise of the black power movement; and the slow, fitful cycle of African-American enfranchisement and achievement.

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