March 4, 2014 (REVISED June 16, 2014) Civil Rights Act Exhibition to Open in Fall 2014

Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639

The Library of Congress exhibition “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom” will open in early fall, 2014.

Drawn from the unparalleled collections of the Library of Congress, the exhibition will include more than 200 items and 70 audio-visual recordings illustrating the centuries of struggle for racial equality of African Americans and other minorities, the events and people that shaped the Civil Rights Movement and the far-reaching impact of the act on a changing society.

The exhibition was previously scheduled to open June 19. The decision to postpone the opening was made to ensure the exhibition – both in its presentation and programming – is a thorough consideration of the momentous events it commemorates.

A new opening date will be finalized in the coming weeks.

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom” will be located in the Southwest Gallery on the second level of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The exhibition is made possible by a generous grant from Newman’s Own Foundation and with additional support from HISTORY®.

“By funding this exhibition, we proudly continue Paul Newman’s commitment to the empowerment of individuals,” said Robert H. Forrester, president of Newman’s Own Foundation. “We hope that the strength of the human spirit as reflected in this exhibit will inform people’s understanding of the present and provide inspiration to help create a better world for tomorrow.”

Drawn from the unparalleled collections of the Library of Congress, the exhibition items will include correspondence and documents from civil rights leaders and organizations, images captured by photojournalists and professional photographers, newspapers, drawings, posters and in-depth profiles of key figures in the long process of attaining civil rights.

Audiovisual presentations will feature oral-history interviews with participants in the Civil Rights Movement and television clips that brought the struggle for equality into living rooms across the country and around the world. Visitors also will hear songs from the Civil Rights Movement that motivated change, inspired hope and unified people from all walks of life.

In addition, the Library and History will co-produce two videos that will be shown in the exhibition. One video will introduce visitors to the Civil Rights Act of 1964—what led to its creation, why it was needed and why it continues as an important force for change in our nation’s political and social structures. The second video will focus on the impact of the act in the years following its enactment. In this video, prominent historians and elected officials will shed light on the historical context for the Civil Rights Act and the changes enacted as a result of this landmark legislation. The Library’s partnership with History will also make available resources specifically for classroom teachers that feature primary sources and strategies for incorporating them into classroom instruction.

“We are honored to join with the Library of Congress in commemorating the Civil Rights Act, 50 years after its passage,” said Libby O’Connell, chief historian and senior vice president, Corporate Outreach for History. “The Civil Rights Act was one of the most important milestones of the 20th century. We are very pleased to play a role in this exhibition, which will be made even more valuable through its broad reach to the public and educators on multimedia platforms.”

When the exhibition opens, an online version will be made available at

The Library of Congress convened a group of Civil Rights-Era scholars and authors who provided guidance and expertise to the Library staff in planning the exhibition. They include:

  • Risa Goluboff, John Allan Love Professor of Law and Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law
  • Taylor Branch, an author and historian of the American Civil Rights Movement
  • Elsa Barkley Brown, an associate professor of history and women’s studies and director of undergraduate studies in history at the University of Maryland
  • Wesley C. Hogan, Director of Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University
  • Thomas F. Jackson, associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro
  • William P. Jones, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Kenneth W. Mack, Lawrence Biele Professor of Law at Harvard Law School
  • Patricia A. Sullivan, professor of history at the University of South Carolina

“Though the exhibition will present a broad and deep timeline of the civil rights struggle, its centerpiece will be the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That law is the single most important piece of civil rights legislation of the 20th century,” said Goluboff, who is serving as chairperson for the advisory board and a consulting curator. “It is key to understanding both the modern history and the future of American civil rights. The Library has a wealth of primary materials about the people and the organizations who played key roles in both identifying the need for the act and in making its passage happen.”

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at


PR 14-032
ISSN 0731-3527