February 18, 2005 (REVISED January 31, 2011) U.S. Civil Rights Movement Is Subject of New Exhibition To Open Feb. 24

Exhibition Features Oral Histories Drawn from Voices of Civil Rights Project

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022
Public Contact: Diane Kresh (202) 707-6072
Contact: View the exhibition online.

"Voices of Civil Rights," an exhibition featuring personal stories and images from the civil rights era in the United States, will be on display from Feb. 24 through March 26 in the South Gallery of the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The exhibition draws from the individual accounts, personal stories, oral histories and photographs collected by the Voices of Civil Rights project, a collaborative effort of AARP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) and the Library of Congress. Made possible by generous support from AARP, the exhibition celebrates the donation of these materials to the Library of Congress and links them to key collections in the Library.

"We are delighted to present selections from these firsthand accounts of the struggle for civil rights during the 20th century," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "This material will complement our extensive collection of civil rights material and add to our ever-growing collection of oral histories, which provide unique insights into different facets of the American experience."

The Voices of Civil Rights project was launched last year to create the world’s largest permanent repository of firsthand accounts of the civil rights movement. The AARP and LCCR collected this material from people from diverse backgrounds. Taken as a whole, their stories make up a broad mosaic of the quest for freedom and equality in America. The collection of more than 4,000 oral histories are being donated to the Library of Congress, where they will be housed permanently and made available to researchers studying this period in American history.

The exhibition will feature 20 oral histories and 17 photographs taken during the Voices of Civil Rights bus tour, which began in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 3, 2004. This 70-day tour through 22 states and 39 cities followed part of the route of the 1961 Freedom Rides to Jackson, Miss., and then proceeded to other historic civil rights sites. The photographs accompanying the oral histories were taken during the bus tour by award-winning photojournalist Lester Sloan.

In addition, the exhibition includes more than 30 vintage photographs and posters drawn from Library of Congress collections such as the Farm Security Administration Collection, the New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection and the Visual Records of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The work of individual photographers such as Danny Lyon are also included. The photographs illustrate events such as the 1960 Greensboro, N. C., lunch counter sit-in, the 1963 16th Street Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala., the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march, and the deaths of civil rights leader Medgar Evers and Viola Liuzzo. The posters portray civil rights leaders Reverend F.L. Shuttlesworth, John Lewis, Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez.

The exhibition also features two audio-visual kiosks. One kiosk will show the "Voices of Civil Rights" bus tour video produced by the History Channel and narrated by actor Danny Glover. The video shows scenes from bus tour events at the different historical sites around the country. The second kiosk will show oral history excerpts from "Save Our History: Voices of Civil Rights," the History Channel documentary that premiered on Feb. 12.

The Library of Congress houses the most comprehensive civil rights collection in the country: including the original documents of the organizations that led the fight for civil liberties—the NAACP, the National Urban League, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the microfilmed records of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as well as the personal papersof Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Roy Wilkins, Thurgood Marshall, Robert L. Carter, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Arthur Spingarn, Patricia Roberts Harris, Edward W. Brooke and Joseph Rauh.

The exhibition will be accessible on the Library’s Web site at www.loc.gov/exhibits/. The media can request images at pao@loc.gov.


PR 05-035
ISSN 0731-3527