The special exhibition I AM A MAN: Civil Rights Photographs in the American South, 1960–1970 will open Saturday, January 30, at the Two Mississippi Museums. The exhibition will feature a wide range of images that captured key events of the Civil Rights Movement across the South. The exhibit takes its name from a slogan featured on protest signs carried by sanitation workers on strike in Memphis.
First shown in Montpellier, France, at the Pavillon Populaire in 2018, the photographs in I AM A MAN document the hope and determination of the Civil Rights Movement in the face of oppression and violence. William R. Ferris—Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, former chairman of the National Endowment of the Humanities, and founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi—curated the original exhibition.
The exhibition’s Mississippi focus will include photographs of James Meredith’s integration of the University of Mississippi in 1962, events surrounding the murder of Vernon Dahmer in 1966, and the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968.
“These photographs are vessels of truth–truth about the courage of protestors who faced unimaginable violence and brutality,” said Ferris. “The photographs capture the quiet determination of elders and the angry commitment of the young, and they also remind us how far we have to go. Photographs taken in Mississippi underscore Governor William Winter’s remark that we are “halfway home, and a long way to go.”
The twelve photographers include Norman Dean, Doris Derby, Roland L. Freeman, Robert Langmuir, James “Spider” Martin, Calvert McCann, Winfred Moncrief, Jim Peppler, Bruce Roberts, Art Shay, Don Sturkey, and Ernest C. Withers.
A discussion of the I AM A MAN exhibit featuring Ferris and Two Mississippi Museums director Pamela D.C. Junior will be held virtually at 11 a.m. on January 30. The program will stream live from the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum Facebook page. The I AM A MAN exhibit will run through August 21, 2021.
Safety precautions at the museums include requiring all visitors to wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines. Masks are available on-site. All public spaces have been sanitized, and thorough cleaning will continue every day. Hand sanitizing stations are provided and staff are on-site to ensure that social distancing guidelines are maintained. A limited number of visitors are allowed inside the museums at one time.
Visitors are encouraged to purchase their tickets online at tickets.mdah.ms.gov. The maximum number of people per group is twenty. Regular museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.–4 p.m. The museums are open free of charge on Sundays from noon–4 p.m.
The museums are located at 222 North Street in Jackson. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.