Taubman Museum Announces This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement

Roanoke, Va. (September 26, 2013) – The Taubman Museum of Art opened This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement on September 21, which runs through Saturday, January 14.

The exhibit presents the work of nine photographers from diverse backgrounds who in the 1960s lived and photographed from within the Southern Freedom Movement. They were "movement photographers," decidedly distinct from news photographers, and their images reflect that difference. 

This Light of Ours Photo

Seven photographed for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the only civil rights organization with its own photography department. The other two photographed for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

SNCC emerged from student protest that erupted on February 1, 1960, in Greensboro, North Carolina, when four black students refused to leave a Woolworth department store lunch counter after being denied service. This grassroots approach to organizing has been captured in this exhibit. These are photographs from inside the movement and from the bottom up. They portray community life as well as protest. 

Although this exhibit mainly focuses on SNCC's work and on the battleground states of Mississippi and Alabama during the years 1963-1966, these photographs shine a light that reveals the inner life of the whole southern freedom struggle. 

The exhibit is organized by the Center for Documentary Expression and Art, and is supported by the Bruce W. Bastian Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Roanoke through the Roanoke Arts Commission, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.  

In addition to This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement, the Taubman Museum of Art is showing Yoko Ono Imagine Peace: Featuring John & Yoko's Year of Peace, REUNION: Highlights of the Collection, Myth: Ann Glover, and Ambiguity and Interface: Art Across the Spectrum.


Bryan Hantman
Taubman Museum of Art

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