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For All the World To See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights

November 10, 2018 - January 7, 2019

Dates: November 10, 2018—January 7, 2019

For All the World To See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights examines the role that visual culture played in shaping and transforming the struggle for racial equality in America from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s. Through a compelling assortment of photographs, television clips, art posters, and historic artifacts, this exhibit traces how images and media disseminated to the American public transformed the modern civil rights movement and jolted Americans, both black and white, out of a state of denial or complacency.

Visitors to this immersive exhibition will explore dozens of compelling and persuasive visual images, including photographs from influential magazines, such as Life, Jet, and Ebony; CBS news footage; and TV clips from The Ed Sullivan Show. Also included are civil rights-era objects that exemplify the range of negative and positive imagery—from Aunt Jemima syrup dispensers and 1930s produce advertisements to Jackie Robinson baseball ephemera and 1960s children’s toys with African American portraiture.

For All the World To See is not a history of the civil rights movement, but rather an exploration of the vast number of potent images that influenced how Americans perceived race and the struggle for equality. As Ebony founder John H. Johnson put it, magazines and television “opened new windows in the mind and brought us face to face with the multicolored possibilities of man and woman.”

A supplementary display focused on the local African American schools in Bristol – Douglass School in Virginia and Slater School in Tennessee – has been added to the exhibit. The Bristol Public Library will also have a display of books related to the movement and civil rights, for both children and adults, at the library throughout the exhibit.

This exhibition has been made possible through NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It has been adapted and is being toured by Mid-America Arts AllianceFor All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights was organized by The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in partnership with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution.

Special thanks to the YWCA of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, the Bristol Public Library, the staff of the Mid-America Arts Alliance, Wilhelmina Banks, Jewel Bell, Buckey Boone, Thomas Bryant, Steven L. Davis Sr., Martin Dotterweich, Joy Fulkerson, Carshonda Harris, Patricia Gonzalez, Dan Gray, Varley Hickman, Jerry Hill, John Hogans, Rita Howard, W. A. Johnson, Jerry Jones, Robert Kariuki, Amy Kimani, Jerry Kincaid, Larry Kirksey, Rayburn Leeper, Asia Malone, Tina McDaniel, Jackie Nophlin, April Norris, Sam Page, Georgia Polk, Vivian Releford, Lisa Seaborn, Langley Shazor, Alana Simmons, Calvin Sneed, Amy Stephenson, Randy White, Danianese Woods, and Mike Young for their input to and support of the For All the World to See exhibit and programming. Working with our community has helped strengthen this exhibit and its impact.

For All the World to See will be on display in the Special Exhibits Gallery from November 10, 2018 to January 7, 2019.

A variety of public programs will be held throughout the exhibit, including:

  • Wednesdays at 10:30am and replayed at 6:00pm (November 14, 21, 28; December 5, 12, 19, 26; January 2) – 15—20 minute segments on Radio Bristol’s On the Sunny Side show featuring stories and perspectives from members of our region’s African American community. Tune in from November 14 to January 2 via 100.1 FM, our website, or the Radio Bristol app!
  • Monday, November 12, 4—5:30pm – Free educator preview visit to For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights. Teachers will have the chance to explore the exhibit, to learn about related educator resources, lessons and activities that are available, to hear about the free public programming that goes along with the exhibit, and to find out more about booking a school group visit.
  • Thursday, November 15, 6:30pm – Presentation by Thomas Bryant on images of persons of color in comics, particularly the recent, growing trend of Afrocentric graphic novels focused on historical figures and events. Free and open to the public.
  • Thursday, November 29, 6:30pm – Film screening of Soundtrack for a Revolution, a documentary about the music of the Civil Rights era. Free and open to the public.
  • Tuesday, December 4, 6:30pm – Moderated panel discussion exploring race reconciliation and how to engage in difficult conversations about race in your community, the importance of representing African American experiences, and the power of media imagery on perceptions of race issues. Free and open to the public.



November 10, 2018
January 7, 2019
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Birthplace of Country Music
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Birthplace of Country Music Museum
520 Birthplace of Country Music Way
Bristol, VA 24201 United States
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