The Library of Congress is extending its powerful exhibit, “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom”, through Jan. 2, 2016, and adding 50 new items on March 7, including some from its newly acquired Rosa Parks Collection.
Parks became known as “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement”, due to her 1955 refusal to relinquish her bus seat to a white passenger, and her arrest that sparked the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott. It led to the 1956 U.S. Supreme Court decision banning segregation on public transportation. Most important, it galvanized the civil rights movement.
The three Rosa Parks Collection items that will be added to the free exhibit include:
- Parks’ two pages of instructions to participants in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955.
- Her date book from 1955, listing drivers for the boycott. Ironically, the date book is from Montgomery Fair department store that fired her after her arrest.
- A flier heralding “First Time in Baltimore! Hear! Mrs. Rosa Parks. Sunday, September 23, 1956, 3 p.m.” at Sharp Street Methodist Church.
Additional Rosa Parks Collection items will be displayed March 2 through March 30 on the first floor of the Library’s Jefferson Building, 10 First Street, S.E., across from the U.S. Capitol.
Other highlights among the 50 new items in “The Civil Rights Act of 1964”, on the second floor of the Jefferson Building:
- A report from James Forman, executive secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), on the Selma, Alabama march that became known as “Bloody Sunday”, March 7, 1965.
- A photograph of President Lyndon B. Johnson giving Martin Luther King Jr. one of the pens used in the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
- A photograph of the silent protest parade in New York City against the 1917 East St. Louis, Illinois riots.
- An image by photographer Bruce Davidson of a civil rights demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama, showing students praying outside a municipal building. (“The New Yorker” praised Magnum photographer Davidson’s recent book, “Time of Change: Civil Rights Photographs 1961-1965” (St. Ann’s Press) — “these pictures stand as one of the most comprehensive and pervasive documents from this period in American history.”
- An image by photographer Roosevelt Carter of renowned entertainer Josephine Baker standing at the Lincoln Memorial podium during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on Aug. 28, 1963.
Throughout February, Black History Month, docents give highlight tours of the exhibition on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 1 P.M., beginning at the second floor information desk near the exhibit entrance.
(Note: For the rotation of materials, “The Civil Rights Act of 1964” exhibition and the adjacent exhibition “Thomas Jefferson’s Library” will not open until 11 A.M. from March 2 to March 6.)
“The Civil Rights Act of 1964” that began last September 2014 will be extended from its originally scheduled closing date of September 2015 to Jan. 2, 2016.
With more than 200 items, the 1964 Civil Rights Act exhibit features the legal and legislative challenges and victories leading to its passage, shedding light on the prominent leaders and private citizens who participated in the decades-long campaign for equality. It includes:
- Correspondence and documents from civil rights leaders and organizations, photographs, newspapers, legal briefs, drawings, and posters.
- Audio-visual stations throughout the gallery show more than 70 clips of protests, sit-ins, boycotts, and other public actions against segregation and discrimination.
- Eyewitness testimony of activists and participants who helped craft the law.
- Two videos co-produced with HISTORY®.
— An introductory film narrated by Julian Bond, a political and civil-rights leader and professor at American University and the University of Virginia, focuses on the significance of the Civil Rights Act.
— The second film explores the impact of the Civil Rights Act and features interviews with U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Civil Rights Movement leader — a key participant in the Selma march and the March on Washington; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; author and historian Taylor Branch; among others.
“The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom”, should be seen by all — black or white, male or female, old or young — especially those too young to have lived through this era. The exhibit vividly illuminates that long struggle, and inspires and lights the long struggle ahead for equality and justice.