Museum Launches Online Exhibit
The N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh recently launched the online exhibit "A Change Is Gonna Come: Black, Indian and White Voices for Racial Equality."
Accessible at www.nccivilrights.org, the exhibit highlights the experiences of courageous Tar Heels in the struggle for equal rights for all North Carolinians.
Focusing mainly on the years 1865 to the 1980s, the exhibit gives voice to the individuals and communities who challenged a system of oppression based on race.
"We believe this is the first exhibit in the South to examine the civil rights movement through the personal stories of African-Americans, American Indians and white North Carolinians," says Earl Ijames, curator. "These different historical perspectives are essential to understanding the complexities of the movement."
Follow the history of civil rights as a movement of everyday people, rather than a political exercise by a well-known few. Find out how their actions had local and national impact.
"This grassroots social effort changed how North Carolinians viewed civil disobedience and encouraged people to advocate for the rights of themselves and others who face discrimination," adds Doris McLean Bates, exhibit project manager.
To bring their stories to life, "A Change Is Gonna Come" features compelling historical information, images of individuals and artifacts, first-person accounts by North Carolinians, and video and audio clips of significant events.
The exhibit also has links to original documents, newspaper articles and other primary sources.
For example, online visitors can hear an audio clip of Andrew Brooks recalling a racial incident in his Lumbee community in the late 1800s. Or they can see artifacts indicative of segregation laws, such as "white" and "colored" signs used at drinking fountains in Kinston.
"A Change Is Gonna Come" is presented in three sections, titled "Trouble in My Way" (1830-1900), "People Get Ready" (1901-1947) and "Tear Down These Walls" (1948-1980s). Each section guides online visitors through obstacles and injustices that African-Americans and American Indians faced in an oppressive system.
However, the exhibit also showcases Tar Heels who initiated change and helped eradicate segregation practices in the state and nation.
Learn about determined men and women who improved life for citizens who were denied equal opportunities.
Regarding education, for instance, African-American Charlotte Hawkins Brown founded Palmer Memorial Institute in Sedalia in 1902. The private school grew into one of the nation's premier black preparatory schools.
Others spoke boldly in support of equality, such as the Rev. W.W. Finlator, a white Baptist minister in Raleigh who challenged segregationist practices from the pulpit in the 1960s and beyond.
"A Change Is Gonna Come" highlights both major and lesser-known moments in the state's civil rights history. The nationally recognized sit-in movement began in Greensboro in February 1960, when four black students were denied service at a whites-only lunch counter in the F.W. Woolworth store. The students from the Agricultural & Technical College of North Carolina (now North Carolina A&T State University) sat peacefully and refused to leave until the store closed.
Not as well known, the "Save Old Main" campaign at Pembroke State University in 1972 centered on cultural recognition for the Lumbee community. The Lumbee considered the Old Main building a direct connection to the institution's beginnings as a normal school for Indians in 1887.
When the university proposed demolishing the building, the Lumbee and the Tuscarora communities protested. The Old Main campaign eventually became a political issue, drawing support from candidates for state public offices.
"'A Change Is Gonna Come' will be a valuable tool for educators, students and others to gain a broader understanding of how and why the movement occurred, and the effects the movement had on individuals from all walks of life," says Bates.
The exhibit concludes with an epilogue that addresses present-day civil rights issues. Additionally, a resource page lists sources for further investigation of civil rights topics.
GlaxoSmithKline is a major sponsor of the exhibit, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Lord Corporation, WakeMed, N.C. Museum of History Associates, and African American Heritage Commission.
For more information call (919) 807-7900 or access ncmuseumofhistory.org or Facebook. The museum is located at 5 E. Edenton St., Raleigh.
More like this story