In the midst of the 50th anniversary of 1963, the University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum has teamed up with the city of Columbia mayor’s office to present Defying the Quiet: Photography of the Civil Rights Movement. The display is part of an initiative called Project 63, which aims to create a more complete record of the civil rights movement, particularly in Columbia. Typically, the civil rights movement is centered on events that took place in Alabama and Mississippi, but the project is working to add more to what is already known about the movement here in Columbia.
The photographs in the exhibit were taken primarily by three photographers: Cecil Williams, a professional African-American photographer; David Wallace, a local Caucasian business owner of the time who was interested in what was going on; and The State newspaper. Museum exhibitions curator Ed Puchner hopes that when the photographs are displayed, the variation in perspective of the three photographers will be evident. He also says that it will be interesting to see how the photographs taken by the newspaper were used to shape social movements.
Social change was certainly prevalent throughout the ‘60s, and the photography combines personal involvement in the civil rights movement with personal emotion. Photographical documentation of Henrie Monteith Treadwell, the first African-American to be admitted into the University of South Carolina, is included in the exhibition.
The photographs in the exhibit will be separated by event. As most have never before been seen, the museum will have a place for those who visit to identify anyone they may know in the pictures.
Among numerous other clips, film footage of marches for freedom, speeches by Gov. Hollings (SC governor 1959-1963), and interviews with those involved in the movement will be cycled through.
“We like the idea of there being a lot of different voices,” Puchner said.
Defying the Quiet will officially open October 18th and will stay open until January 17th. It is located on the second floor of the McKissick Museum in the South gallery and is free to the public. On October 22nd, there will be a gallery opening reception from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. where Cecil Williams will be signing books. All are invited to attend.
To learn more about Project 63, visit http://columbiasc63.com/index.html.
- By Deborah Swearingen, Jasper intern