Imagine a little girl who is unable to play with a doll having any resemblance to her or an entire segment of society so sporadically — and sometimes so poorly — depicted on TV that they scarcely tuned in. That imagery and the efforts to affect change live on in a special exhibit opening today at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum’s special events gallery. Entitled “For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights,” the exhibit depicts the struggle for racial equality from the late 1940s through the 1970s.
“A lot of this exhibit is about how the power of images can change people’s perception of what’s happening,” Head Curator Rene Rodgers said. Some of the images are powerful — including photos of 14-year-old Emmitt Till lying in his casket after he was beaten then murdered in Mississippi in 1955. Till’s killers went free, and the story of his death was an early cornerstone of the civil rights movement.
This exhibition was made possible through NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities.