This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement

Matt Herron, Bogalusa, Louisiana, 1965. Courtesy of the Center for Documentary Expression and Art
Sun, 01/17/2016 - Sun, 05/15/2016
Scheller and Rodale Galleries

This Light of Ours presents the Southern Freedom Movement through the visions and voices of eight men and one woman who lived and worked in the South between 1963 and 1967. Unlike images produced by photojournalists, who covered breaking news events, these nine photographers lived within the movement—primarily within the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) framework—and documented its activities by focusing on the local people and student activists who together made it happen. The 150+ photographs by Bob Adelman, George Ballis, Bob Fitch, Bob Fletcher, Matt Herron, David Prince, Herbert Randall, Maria Varela, and Tamio Wakayama convey SNCC's organizational strategies and development, resolve in the face of violence, impact on the nation's politics, and influence of the nation's consciousness. This Light of Ours expands public understanding of the Civil Rights Movement by presenting the actions and achievements of young organizers and "ordinary" people who fashioned a movement that changed America.

This Light of Ours was organized by the Center for Documentary Expression and Art. Major
support for the exhibition has been provided by the Bruce W. Bastian Foundation and the
National Endowment for the Arts. Its presentation at the Allentown Art Museum has been
supported through the generosity of the Audrey and Bernard Berman Family Fund,  the Estelle Browne-Pallrand Charitable Trust, the Leon C. and June W. Holt Endowment, The Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation, the Rider-Pool Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the County of Lehigh, and the more than two thousand dedicated members of the Museum.

Exhibition Curator: Matt Herron
Historical Consultant: Charlie Cobb Jr.
Project Originators: Leslie Kelen and Steven Kasher

    

Bob Fletcher, Mississippi Delta, 1965. In 1965, a small, defiant group of sharecroppers began demanding a fair wage and went on strike, giving birth to the Mississippi Freedom Labor union. Courtesy of the Center for Documentary Expression and Art

 

Matt Herron, Greenwood, Mississippi, 1963. A mock vote is held to demonstrate that blacks desire to vote. The woman on the left, Ida Mae Holland, was a prostitute before joining the movement. She later attended college, earned a PhD, and became a playwright.

 

Maria Varela, Washington County, Mississippi, 1966. The U.S. military evicted more than one hundred plantation workers from the Greenville air force base. "People are hungry in the Delta," a protestor told the Justice Department representative.

 


Maria Varela, near Canton, Mississippi, 1966. A hand-drawn black panther indicates a change of movement symbolism as young men
joined the Meredith March in response to the call for Black Power.

 

 

IN THE MUSEUM STORE
This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement
Exhibition catalog
$45

The richly illustrated exhibition catalogue for This Light of Ours presents the Civil Rights Movement through more than 150 iconic black and white photographs from that era. Published by the University Press of Mississippi–Jackson in 2011, the 252-page indexed volume includes essays by and biographies of all of the photographers and is edited by Leslie Kelen, executive director of the Center for Documentary Expression and Art, which originated the exhibition.