The latest exhibit at Kenosha’s Civil War Museum — “For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights” — doesn’t appear, on its surface, to have anything to do with the Civil War.
But when you dig a bit deeper, you’ll see that the struggle for civil rights in the United States reaches back to the Civil War. “We’ve been really focused on the Civil War at this museum,” said Rachel Klees Andersen, curator of exhibits, “but we also want to delve into more subjects with roots in the Civil War. The whole question of basic human rights and emancipation all goes back to that era.
“During the Reconstruction period just after the Civil War,” she said, “really potent stereotyping and the formation of the Ku Klux Klan began a concerted effort to keep down African Americans. They didn’t want to see them as American citizens.” That era, she added, “started decades of really horrible acts.”
“For All the World to See” is a traveling exhibit from the National Endowment for the Humanities and is “an overview of how photos and television were used to bring about social change,” Andersen said. “It is not a history of the civil rights movement but, rather, a look at the use of visual images in the 1940s through the 1970s.”