This exhibition, through sometimes plain (and often painful) documents, attempts to illuminate aspects of three civil rights movements: African American, Women, and LGBTQ+. The items in the cases are from the holdings of the George Mason University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center. The displayed pieces were created between the 19th through 21st century, and originate primarily in the United States.
Every movement has multiples arguments and ways to inform about a shared code of beliefs or values. Photographs educate and, sometimes, inspire one to action. Reports present researched facts. Letters reveal personal opinions. Plays and books interpret past and present realities, or anticipate future ones. The actions of people – of our fellow citizens – reflects the times in which they lived, their individual challenges, the choices made, their perspectives and vision for the future. Although incomplete, this exhibit is an invitation to more deeply examine the long, slow march of civil rights history in the United States.
“Before and Beyond 1968” is curated by Lynn Eaton (Director, Special Collections Research Center) and Bob Vay (Digital Collections and Exhibition Archivist, Special Collections Research Center). Consultation provided by Spencer Crew (Robinson Professor of African American and Public History). The exhibition will be on display through January 2019.