From July 7 through December 1, 2018, Art on the Atlanta BeltLine is hosting the photography exhibition “Atlanta and the Civil Rights Movement, 1944-1968,” curated by historian and author Karcheik Sims-Alvarado, Ph.D.
The photography is sourced from Dr. Sims-Alvarado’s book Images of America: Atlanta and the Civil Rights Movement, 1944-1968 (Arcadia Publishing, 2017). The book is a portable exhibition that offers a pictorial history of the modern civil rights movement in Atlanta, curated from photographs largely taken by award-winning Associated Press photojournalists. From testing the landmark US Supreme Court decision in Smith v. Allwright to mourning the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the exhibition illustrates how Atlanta came to be recognized as the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement.
“Atlanta and the Civil Rights Movement, 1944-1968” will be presented across four miles of the Eastside and Westside Trails, making it the longest outdoor exhibition on civil and human rights in the United States. Marrying her experiences as a museum professional and historian, Dr. Sims-Alvarado says, “The photographs tell a beautiful narrative of the struggle, fortitude, and organizational strength of a people determined to eradicate Jim Crow segregation once and for all.”
“Honoring the nation’s civil rights leadership right here on the Atlanta BeltLine is so fitting considering that many of the movement’s leaders lived in BeltLine neighborhoods,” said Brian P. McGowan, President and CEO of the Atlanta Beltline, Inc. “We are committed to using our public art program to celebrate and highlight the history and unique culture of our neighborhoods – it is this culture that makes Atlanta great.”
Celebrating the city’s legacy as the epicenter of the civil rights movement, Dr. Sims-Alvarado used historic photographs to document and to identify the cross-generation of Atlanta activists who changed history – many of whom resided in the neighborhoods around the Atlanta BeltLine.
To ensure that the arts and the learning of the city’s history are accessible to all, she says, “This massive public exhibition allows families in Atlanta to boast that they have a museum, not bound by walls, just walking distance from their homes or schoolyards. They can learn the names and identify the faces of community residents or relatives, both past and present, who helped secure civil and human rights for citizens 100 years since the ratification of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.”
Dr. Karcheik Sims-Alvarado is the CEO of Preserve Black Atlanta, a non-profit 501(c)(3) dedicated to identifying, recording, and preserving African-American history and culture. Dr. Sims-Alvarado has developed a model for utilizing historical and cultural assets as a catalyst for economic and community development and has worked with some of Atlanta’s leading institutions: the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta History Center, Herndon Home Museum, and Central Atlanta Progress