Courtesy of Ernest C. Withers
From Wednesday Jan 22. to Feb 26. an art exhibit on media during the civil rights era will be shown at UTSA’s Art Building Gallery. The exhibit, titled “For All The World To See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights,” is free to the public.
UTSA Associate Professor of Art History Scott Sherer made the exhibit possible. In an interview with Texas Public Radio, Sherer said the title was inspired by the words of Mamiee Till Bradley. Bradley is the mother of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy who was murdered in 1955 by white supremacists in Mississippi.
After receiving Emmett Till’s battered body, Mamie Till Bradley decided to have an open casket at Till’s funeral to bring attention to the inhumanity of racism in society.
“For All The World To See” features works about Jim Crow, segregation in sports, racism in the media, solidarity between blacks and oppressed people of the world and celebrations of cultural differences in America.
John Hooper, the preparator of the exhibit, said the exhibit is “mainly about how the visual culture like TV, movies, news and other media depicted the civil rights movement and how that helped integration.”
“There are film clips here that portray how blacks were ignored in society and there is also literature here concerning that.” Pointing to a poster of Walt Disney’s “Song of the South,” Hooper said “In the 60s, there were movies made by Walt Disney and other media entities that portrayed black people as the happy slave.”
To the right of that poster is a picture of blacks protesting outside an Oakland theater showing “Song of the South.” The picture shows that awareness was brought to the problematic nature of the movie on its release day so Disney could not claim ignorance as a defense.
“Over here is a photograph of Malcolm X. This picture shows how Malcolm X used the media. See how he is holding the paper? Where the camera could see it but he is actually looking somewhere else? He orchestrated that for a reason,” Hooper said of an exhibit on Malcolm X.
A striking quote in the presentation is one by the late Amiri Baraka, an activist poet and essayist, which says, “If you give me a television station, we don’t need a revolution,” as a way of promoting the idea that there is power in fair and accurate media representation in society.
According to UTSA Today, “The exhibit was curated by Maurice Berger, a research professor in the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County,” and was made possible through NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“For All The World To See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights” will be on display at the UTSA Art Gallery starting Jan. 22 to Feb. 26. For more information, visit art.utsa.edu.