The High Museum of Art is focusing on the civil rights era in two new exhibits that include 200 photographs, many of which have never been publicly displayed before. “Road to Freedom” spans 12 years from Rosa Parks’ stand in Montgomery in 1955 to Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination 40 years ago, in 1968. The exhibit includes images from watershed moments such as the Freedom Rides of 1961, the Mississippi murders during Freedom Summer in 1964 and the Selma-Montgomery March of 1965. Iconic images of King, an Atlanta native, and his wife, Coretta, hang alongside the nameless men and women who fought for equal rights across the South. “The exhibition contains some pictures that really are sort of laden with tension, and frankly, with violence, too,” said Julian Cox, curator of photography at the museum. “You see people going about their business in a segregated world. As our visitors move through the exhibition, they move between different emotions when looking at these photographs and will be struck by the power and directness of some of these images.” The photographs were the inspiration behind “After 1968,” a collection of paintings, sculpture, video, sound and light works from 10 contemporary artists that examines the legacy of the civil rights movement, said Jeffrey Grove, the museum’s Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. Grove said that both exhibits help make more palpable Atlanta’s legacy as the cradle of the movement — something he found conspicuously absent when he arrived here three years ago. “I expected when I moved here, I’d drive through some kind of shrine to these people,” Grove said. “These kinds of ideals that they represent aren’t part of the daily language here. I’m always surprised by how quickly we choose to forget in the name of progress.” Some see the new exhibits as another sign that Atlanta is starting to quiet a notion that the “city too busy to hate” is also too busy to embrace its civil rights legacy beyond King. “Atlanta and its leadership is embracing the significance of this history and wants to put it front and center,” Cox said. “We are certainly very conscious of the statement that we’re making in presenting this exhibition. We want to say loud and proud that this is a history and culture that is very important to us and we want to share it and celebrate it.” “Road to Freedom” and “After 1968” opened June 7 and will run through Oct. 5 at the High Museum, then travel to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in November. “After 1968” will also travel to the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.
/ Source: The Associated Press