“Racism is still alive in this country today, and probably will be for some time, and the struggle to eradicate it from the American scene has to go on.” This comment came from curator and photographer Matt Herron following a panel discussion on the opening day of the exhibition This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement at the Allentown Art Museum in 2016. Speaking of the ongoing struggle for social justice, fellow photographer and activist Herbert Randall Jr. confirmed what continues to be terribly, painfully obvious and learned in the most bitter of ways: “If you don’t take care of problems, the problem will still exist and you’ll just have to repeat it.”

Over the years, the Allentown Art Museum has actively sought to stimulate conversations about important issues that affect our community and our world. Our mission states: “We strive to be an inclusive regional resource that uses arts and culture as a catalyst to drive interaction, education, experimentation and social change by offering exhibitions and programs that inspire, teach, transform, and engage our Valley–one person, one idea at a time.” We passionately support the belief that art inspires transformative experiences that can lead to a better society. We are committed to bringing people together to share perspectives and foster a deeper understanding of one another and the world around us. We look to art to offer a way forward.

Throughout June we will share videos, artwork, and commentary that shine a light on issues of race and inequality, with a goal of helping to effect positive change. Just as importantly, we will continue to provide a platform for personal expression and societal reflection toward making our community and the world just and equitable.

Artists communicate their passions through their work, and if we are attentive and serious about growing, we can open ourselves to the experiences of others with just a look, or a listen. In September 2018 the Allentown Art Museum invited the band Shrine for the Black Madonna and poet Ursula Rucker to bring their powerful voices to the Lehigh Valley to impact visitors and inspire understanding of the African American experience. “We may plea but never bargain for the lives of our daughters and sons,” proclaimed Rucker.

We must not bargain any longer.

–Allentown Art Museum

Experience Ursula Rucker’s performance:

Get an overview of the issues explored in the This Light of Ours panel discussion: