Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Faces of Freedom Summer: The Photographs of Herbert Randall

The Story Behind the Exhibit

Faces of Freedom Summer, an exhibit featuring 102 photographs taken by Herbert Randall in Hattiesburg, Miss., opens this Saturday, February 22. These powerful images document the struggles and triumphs of Civil Rights activists and disenfranchised African-American voters during the summer of 1964.

Faces of Freedom Summer: The Photographs of Herbert RandallThat summer, students of all races and backgrounds, voting rights organizers, and a coalition of local black residents worked together to secure the rights for all Americans to vote in the South. Among them were three young civil rights workers, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman, who were murdered days after arriving to Mississippi.

Herbert Randall became the official photographer for the Freedom Summer project in 1964 when he met Sandy Leigh, director of Freedom Summer. Randall took 1,759 negatives that summer, which he donated to the University of Southern Mississippi in 1998. With the negatives carefully stored at the University's McCain Library and Archives, archivists began a project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services called "Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archives" to preserve the images digitally.

Randall's photos were organized into an exhibit, which has traveled across the country since 1999.  Faces of Freedom Summer will be on display from February 22 through August 17, as part of Destination Freedom: Civil Rights Struggles Then and Now.

Learn more about Faces of Freedom Summer here.

After viewing these poignant images tag us on Instagram and purchase your copy of "Faces of Freedom Summer" by Herbert Randall on Amazon.

What lessons can we learn from the participants of Freedom Summer to use for causes today?

Leave your comment below or on Facebook. Share your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #DestinationFreedom.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Guest Blogger: Eric Mullis, Triptych Collective

Through lectures, panel discussions, book signings, workshops, walking tours and more, Levine Museum offers a wide variety of fun, learning opportunities. The Museum provides historical context for contemporary issues, thoughtful community forums, and explorations of the sights, sounds and ideas of the Carolina Piedmont.

The Museum also supports and participates in various community programs throughout Charlotte and the Southeast.  One of those is coming up in April at the Neighborhood Theatre in NoDa. We asked Eric Mullis of Triptych Collective to talk about the performance piece, “Poor Mouth,” here on our blog.

Do you see a familiar face? 

I became interested in developing a performance piece about the history of NoDa after reading [Museum historian] Tom Hanchett's book, "Sorting out the New South City."  The Triptych Collective is a group of performance artists interested in bringing a unique blend of live music, dance performance and visual art to non-traditional spaces in order to make thought-provoking performance art more widely accessible. The Triptych Collective calls the NoDa neighborhood home since we perform there regularly and local venues are so supportive of our work.  I learned that the NoDa mill village was developed at the turn of the 20th century and became the home of mill workers who came to Charlotte from area farms. They found steady work and developed a close-knit community that worked and spent leisure time together. As the Great Depression drew near, mills across the Southern Piedmont began to "stretch-out" their employees, asking them to work longer hours and to run more looms without raising their pay (effectively ignoring the then, recently passed federal minimum-wage law). Mill workers were consequently presented with a difficult dilemma: do they strike for fair pay even though they may not be re-hired? Further, if they strike, will they be evicted from the company-owned mill houses that they lived in?

Poor Mouth is a performance art piece that strives to portray this history in order to honor the mill worker families that lived, worked, and died in the mill village. The work also asks viewers to consider how the history of NoDa affects our experience of the neighborhood today. Do we have an obligation to remember the mill worker families? How would that obligation shape our sense of NoDa as a place?

The piece includes live dance by the Triptych Collective, music by NoDa-based band Ancient Cities, and text by Dr. Tom Hanchett.  Tom consulted the Collective about the history of the NoDa mill village and performed with the group in November of last year, in front of the abandoned Johnston mill and on December 12 at the Chop Shop in NoDa.  This work was developed with the assistance of a Cultural Innovation grant provided by the John S. and James L. Knight foundation and the Arts and Science Council.

We invite folks to come check out the next performance on April 24 at 8pm at the Neighborhood Theatre in NoDa.  Also, keep up with the development of our work on our Facebook page and on our website (triptychcollective.com).

Eric Mullis is a founding member of The Triptych Collective as well as musician, dancer and choreographer. 

What community programs have you enjoyed? 

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