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Special exhibition at Toledo Museum of Art marks 50th anniversary of Civil Rights Act
Ernest C. Withers (American, 1922–2007), First Desegregated Bus Ride from the portfolio I Am A Man. Gelatin-silver print, 1956 (printed 1994). Toledo Museum of Art, Mrs. George W. Stevens Fund, 2003.46B.
TOLEDO, OH.- After a year of social tumult and congressional debate, the U.S. Civil Rights Act was signed into law on July 2, 1964. In honor of those who fought for the right of all citizens to be treated fairly and equally, the Toledo Museum of Art is presenting a special exhibition of works of art that examine slavery, segregation and the civil rights movement in the United States.

People Get Ready: 50 Years of Civil Rights features more than 35 works from the Museum’s collection by Elizabeth Catlett, David Levinthal, Gordon Parks, Aminah Robinson, W. Eugene Smith and others who have illuminated and challenged prejudice and bigotry through their prints, photographs and books.

The exhibition is on view June 27–Sept. 21 in the Hitchcock Gallery. Admission is free.

One highlight is a series of photographs by Ernest C. Withers, according to the show’s organizer Thomas Loeffler, assistant curator for works on paper at the Museum. The African-American photographer witnessed and documented a number of significant civil rights events of the late 1960s, including the first desegregated bus ride in Montgomery, Alabama, and Martin Luther King’s funeral. The pictures are from the photographer’s portfolio I Am A Man.

Another highlight is the powerful work of Catlett, who used her art to promote social change. A number of her prints are on display. Although the African-American artist left the country and became a citizen of Mexico, she did not stop depicting the political struggle for civil rights in the United States.

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