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Maryland Art Exhibit Connects Past, Present in Fight for Civil Rights


Friday, May 20, 2022   

A new museum exhibition in Baltimore opening to the public today aims to tell the story of Maryland's fight for civil rights, both in the past and present.

"Passion and Purpose: Voices of Maryland's Civil Rights Activists" is now on display at the Maryland Center for History and Culture. It showcases oral histories and photography, exploring how Marylanders have long been at the forefront of the national struggle for Black freedom.

Linda Day Clark, a professor at Coppin State University and one of the exhibit's advisers, said the exhibit is not about reinterpreting history, but rather giving visitors a chance to draw their own conclusions about events in the past.

"This exhibition is a great opportunity for people to come in and have a sense of pride of place of what Maryland did as part of the civil rights movement in the past, and is continuing to do today," Clark explained.

The exhibit includes oral history conversations with civil rights leaders including Juanita Jackson Mitchell, Gloria Richardson, the Reverend Marion C. Bascom, and many others. It also shares more recent oral histories recorded during the 2015 Baltimore uprising, after Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Black man, died from a spinal cord injury while in police custody.

Joshua Clark Davis, associate professor in the Division of Legal, Ethical and Historical Studies at the University of Baltimore and an adviser for the project, said the exhibit, in part, is meant to display how Maryland's civil rights movement fits into the national context.

"There were struggles against discrimination, whether it's in schools, whether it's in theaters," Davis observed. "It's just so important to get people to remember that it wasn't something that just happened in these other places, the struggles that were happening in this state was a microcosm of this national struggle."

"Passion and Purpose" is on long-term view at the center. Upcoming public events related to the exhibit include a virtual conversation on Black activism in Maryland next Thursday, featuring Clark and Davis, along with exhibit advisor David Taft Terry, an associate professor and coordinator of the museum studies and historical preservation program at Morgan State University.

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