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Nationally touring exhibition on perceptions of race and equality opens at Ella Sharp Museum

Ella Sharp Civil Rights Exhibit
Posted at 6:06 PM, Nov 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 18:06:36-05

JACKSON, Mich. — A nationally touring civil rights exhibition called “For All the World See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights” is open at Ella Sharp Museum.

The goal is to immerse visitors in photographs from “influential” magazines, television news footage and TV clips as well as positive and negative imagery from Aunt Jemima syrup dispensers to Jackie Robinson and 1960s children’s toys, to the murder of Emmett Till.

According to Curator Harrison Marcott this isn’t just a history of the civil rights movement but how images influenced the way Americans perceived race and equality.

“George Washington was white. Thomas Jefferson’s white. You’re raised with this history that is white,” he said. “Black folks in the country, they’re absent from all that. How do they see themselves and their history? What is their history? I think a lot of this exhibit kind of tries to get at that route. How do we get back to our history by recreating our own perceptions of ourselves. How do we raise ourselves up through media or art or just the old self perceptions?”

He believes it’s a big opportunity to learn.

“A lot of history in the U.S. can be disconnected and I’m hoping this exhibit can reconnect a lot of those pieces and offer people kind of a better lens for empathy to more empathetically understand the situations of one another that they can take those lessons into their community,” he said.

Ella Sharp Civil Rights Exhibit
Ella Sharp Civil Rights Exhibit

Executive Director Julie Johnson said the exhibit addresses issues of race, equality and division that have come to the fore over the past two years.

“Especially during these times where things are still in a little bit of turmoil,” she said. “After last year, with the pandemic, and the riots and everything that we went through I really feel that this exhibit is going to be able to bring clarity to those folks that still don’t understand what’s happening in America right now and how TV media and all of that represents our history in America, especially with the African Americans here in the United States.”

Johnson said she didn’t know what to expect from it.

“On my first walk through here, I was like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that. I didn’t realize that this is what the representation meant,’ she said. “For me as a white person, I just didn’t even think about it that way."

Ella Sharp Civil Rights Exhibit
Ella Sharp Civil Rights Exhibit

The exhibit, presented in partnership with the Jackson School of the Arts, runs through Jan. 8. You can view it Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays noon to 5 p.m.

The cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children. Museum members and children under five get in for free. Admission also includes access to the Jackson History Gallery, Jackson & the Roaring '20s exhibit, The Magnificent Obsession and the Never Enough Time Gallery.

Marcott said the museum plans on working with area middle schoolers and the NAACP Youth Council in the future to gather civil rights histories from Jackson.

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