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Civil Rights Photography at the Snite for Walk the Walk Week

| Monday, January 21, 2019

Joseph Han

For Walk the Walk week, the Snite Museum of Art has curated a small collection of Civil Rights photography that focuses on the life, death and impact of Martin Luther King Jr. The photographs include work by photojournalists Charles Moore, Dan Budnik and Ernest Withers, among others.

While touring the collection, I met with David Acton, the curator of photography at the Snite Museum. When asked about the collection, Acton responded that, “This is just a chance to share things. It’s not meant to be a big show … it’s just meant to show people what we have and remind them of history, and for kids like your age, how much of this stuff have you actually seen? How many of the images have you actually seen? We want to remind people what life was like and the things that really happened.”

The collection is full of photographs that document the most noteworthy moments of the Civil Rights movement, from dog attacks at Birmingham protests to the famous march on Washington. With regards to the content of the collection, Acton focused in on the selection’s relation to Martin Luther King Jr.

“This is a selection that has to do with Martin Luther King. They represent things that relate directly to King, directly to his life and experiences, and the demonstrations that he had a part with. That’s really what this exhibition is about.”

When asked about the intersection between photojournalism and art, Acton affirmed the intersection, especially with photojournalists working in this time period.

“All these photographers pretty much worked in an era of photojournalism where these photos were published in magazines and newspapers, at a time when television was just starting to take over,” he said. “It was long before the notion of photojournalism was something that was everywhere. There were just a few ways that the image was published. You had to choose great photographs that told a great story, so to go out and get those photographs, you had to be pretty skilled.”

The Civil Rights photography collection for Walk the Walk week is on display Monday, January 21st, from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the Snite Museum of Art.

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