Maltz Museum to Open Exhibit Featuring Activist Photos of the Civil Rights Movement

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The battle for Civil Rights in the 1960s marked an important turning point in American history. To commemorate that important moment, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage will present This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement, an exhibit of more than 150 black-and-white images chronicling the Southern Freedom Movement.

The 4,000-square-foot exhibit opens on September 29 and runs through May 14, 2017. It features works by nine activist photographers who documented the clash between “institutionalized discrimination” and “determined resistance by activists and volunteers.”

“The power of these photographs that helped catapult long-existing inequities into the national consciousness is undeniable,” says Maltz Museum executive director Ellen Rudolph in a press release. “Pain, fear and hope—the emotions and momentum fueling the movement—are palpable in the images.”

The Maltz Museum added videos, interactive features and material about racial division today.

“This exhibition is very timely,” says Museum co-founder Milton Maltz, alluding to recent shootings, riots, vigils and protests in Baltimore, Charleston, Cleveland, Dallas and Milwaukee. “Ordinary people risked everything to fight for equality in the segregated South of the 1960s. The question this exhibition asks is, 50 years later, who will take up the challenge to right inequities that continue to spark anger across this country? How can we heal this open wound of racial division in America?”

“As a museum of diversity and tolerance, depictions of everyday people who stood up for justice fits perfectly with our efforts to encourage individuals to understand and accept their roles in ending intolerance and indifference," adds the Museum’s education director Jeffery Allen. “It is as Cleveland’s own Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., a former regional director of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a Selma march participant once put it, ‘If there is no conscience in the community, we have to be that conscience.’"

Some of the exhibit’s content will relate specifially to Northeast Ohio. In 1967, Carl Stokes became the first black mayor of a major American city and his brother, Louis, had a "groundbreaking role" in the U.S. House of Representatives. Exhibition-related programming will be tied into community-wide commemorations of these milestones. 

This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement features photographers Bob Adelman, George Ballis, Bob Fitch, Bob Fletcher, Matt Herron, David Prince, Herbert Randall, Maria Varela and Tamio Wakayams. The Maltz Museum conceived and produced the films, design and exhibition experience.  

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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