Civil rights exhibit to open

Published 11:08pm Friday, February 8, 2013

Selma’s history is filled with important moments in the civil rights movement, and that is why Birmingham is partnering with the Queen City for the Birmingham 2013 Traveling Civil Rights Exhibit.

The exhibit celebrates the 50 years that have passed since 1963 when the whole world watched events in Birmingham spark the beginning of the end of a centuries-long struggle for minority equality.

The traveling exhibit will be in Selma Monday, Feb. 11 and will open to the public Tuesday, Feb. 12. The exhibit will be on display at the George P. Evans Reception Center from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. each Sunday, until March 4.

The exhibit in Selma will be the second of many stops it will make to places including Montgomery, New Orleans, Memphis, Columbia, South Ca., Jackson, Miss., and will come to an end in Washington D.C.

The exhibit is made up of a lot of shadow boxes and other elements, Bessie Bell, the traveling exhibit coordinator said.

“On one side of the shadow box there’s an artifact of something that happened during the civil rights movement. It may be a woman’s dress, for example, so the dress is in there, the hat is in there, but on the other side of the shadow box, it’s technology,” Bell said. “It’s the 21st century. So when you touch the screen it takes you into that movement; you feel like you’re a part of it.”

There will also be 3-D elements like an actual water fountain and lunch counter, and the technology presence will be there to tie the past to the present, Bell said.

“This is an opportunity to actually see the actual artifacts and memorabilia that was actually from that movement, but it continues to express how far we have come in 50 years,” she said. “We wanted it to be relevant to kids and young adults so that they wouldn’t feel like it was just another history book. They can actually touch the screens, and it will play video and audio. It shows where we’ve come from and where we are today.”

The exhibit is free and is open to all ages. And Bell said she thinks it’s something everyone would enjoy.

“It just shows how far we have come. It shows that their labor was not in vain, that the blood was not spilled in vain,” she said. “There really has been some change. When you live change you forget the change really has occurred because you’re in it.”

Selma Mayor George Evans said the exhibit will help people understand what led to the movement in Selma.

“The history prior to the events that took place in 1965 in Selma and the events that happened in Birmingham had a direct effect on those events that happened in Selma,” Evans said. “Some of the things that [will be on exhibition] led to the actual 1965 march here, so [Birmingham] was the front-runner in [the civil rights movement] and in the end [the movement] ended up in Selma and on to Montgomery.”

Bell said the exhibition, sponsored by the city of Birmingham, will be producing a “50 years forward” video, gathering clips in each of the cities on the tour, and eventually broadcast at a reception in Washington D.C.

“Come just to celebrate Selma and Birmingham together in our continuance of human rights,” Bell encouraged Dallas County residents. “It will end March 4 with the mayor of Birmingham and the mayor of Selma signing a resolution saying that Selma and Birmingham are now sister cities in the human rights movement.”

For more information on the exhibit visit www.50yearsforward.com.

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