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spacer Introduction • Description » REFLECTIONS IN BLACK PRESS RELEASE  
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LogoPresenting over 130 images from the civil rights era to the present, this exhibition explores how African American photographers were instrumental in motivating cultural and social change. During this period, many African American photographers began to view the American Civil Rights movement as part of a larger and older struggle for independence and equal rights.

Marches, meetings, rallies, and major figures like Malcolm X and Eldridge Cleaver are documented through the eyes of leading photojournalists, who simultaneously recorded and participated in the Civil Rights and black power movements of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Moving beyond the traditional goal of objective reporting, some photographers in this exhibition use the power of narrative and metaphor to expand the awareness of the public and to combat negative stereotyping found in mainstream media culture.

Divided thematically into four sections, the exhibition reveals how many photographers, using varied photographic approaches, sought to be “graphic historians.” The first section, Civil Rights and Social Justice, presents photographs of prominent civil rights activists, as well as images of the cultural landscape as effected by past and present civil injustice. The second section, Culture, focuses on leading singers, entertainers, athletes, and artists, whose work has brought African American culture to the forefront of American society. The third section, Community, offers a documentary survey of everyday life in contemporary African American communities across the country. The final section, Faith and Devotion, comprises images of spiritual practices before and after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Emerging through the eyes of insiders, Reections in Black is a collective and personal biography of the evolving African American struggle for civil rights, as well as visual evidence of diverse individual histories, values, and goals.

Curated by Deborah Willis, Reflections in Black: Art and Activism, African American Photographs from the Smithsonian Institute is organized by the Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution, and is circulated by Curatorial Assistance, Pasadena, California. This presentation and accompanying texts were conceived by the McMullen Museum of Art and faculty from the following departments: black studies, education, English, fine arts, history, law, music, political science, sociology, and theology. This exhibtion is supported by Boston College with partial funding provided by John Hancock Financial Services, Inc.
 

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Exhibit Hours
M–F 11:00–4:00
Sat–Su 12:00–5:00
The museum is closed Columbus Day, October 13, and Thanksgiving Break, November 27 and 28.


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