“…we had averted our eyes for far too long, turning away from the ugly reality facing us as a nation. Let the world see what I’ve seen.” – Mamie Till Bradley
For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights, a nationally touring exhibition from NEH on the Road, will be on display at the West Baton Rouge Museum from November 10th to January 16th. Through a compelling assortment of photographs, television clips, art posters, and historic artifacts, the exhibition 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.
In September 1955, shortly after fourteen-year-old Emmett Till was murdered by white supremacists in Mississippi, his grieving mother, Mamie Till Bradley, distributed to newspapers and magazines a gruesome photograph of his mutilated corpse. The mainstream media rejected the photograph as inappropriate for publication. Bradley was able to turn to African-American periodicals for support. Bradley explained that by allowing the public to witness with their own eyes the brutality of segregation, Americans would be more likely to support the cause of civil rights.
Museum visitors can explore compelling 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 an exploration of the vast number of potent images that influenced how Americans perceived race and the struggle for equality.
For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights was curated by Dr. Maurice Berger, Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore. It was organized by The Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture and the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. For All the World to See has been made possible through NEH on the Road, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is being toured by Mid-America Arts Alliance.