Read More UMBC News Blog Stories

April 4, 2004

Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery presents
We Shall Overcome: Photographs from the American Civil Rights Era

UMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery presents We Shall Overcome: Photographs from the American Civil Rights Era, on display from April 13 through June 6, 2004.

During America’s civil rights era, the fight for equal rights took many forms, including boycotts, sit-ins and marches. Photographers contributed to the movement by relaying the struggle to every corner of the nation. We Shall Overcome, comprised of 80 black and white photographs, explores the role of several prominent American photographers in documenting the era from 1954 to 1968.

We Shall Overcome was developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES), and curated by Robert Phelan, an art historian, museum curator, and former director of CREED Photos (a database project for civil rights). Following its showing at the Kuhn Library Gallery, the exhibition will continue to tour through 2004. Works in We Shall Overcome are by some of America’s most thoughtful and gifted photographers, including for LIFE magazine photographers Gordon Parks and Charles Moore; Magnum photographers Bob Adelman and Leonard Freed; then-staff photographer for the Nation of Islam, Robert Sengstacke; and Black Star photographers Matt Heron and Bob Fitch. Drawn from the personal collections of the artists, these works bring the viewer into the presence of the people and events of the American civil rights movement of the 1960s. The images reflect both the power and beauty of the photographic medium when used as a tool for social change.

The striking photographs in the exhibition are juxtaposed with the words of James Baldwin, Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and other movement participants. These quotations provide viewers with an opportunity to examine the civil rights movement through the experiences of those directly involved with the struggle.

Photographers in We Shall Overcome captured various aspects of the civil rights movement. Leonard Freed’s images represent his perceptions of racial conflict in America at the time of his return to the United States after several years abroad. Bob Adelman’s photographs document voter registration activities in the Deep South. Matt Heron’s pictures consider direct action by the young in the movement. Bob Fitch’s work chronicles grassroots organizing, primarily in association with the efforts of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Charles Moore’s images reveal incidents of extreme violence. Robert Sengstacke’s images of the separatist response of the Nation of Islam sharply contrast with his photographs of other civil rights activists. Gordon Park’s works are drawn from an assignment by LIFE magazine during 1963 when Parks was traveling with Malcolm X. The exhibition ends with a selection of photographs of Martin Luther King taken by each of the photographers.

About the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service
Each year, the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service shares the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside of Washington, D.C. One of the Smithsonian’s four National Programs, SITES makes available a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown not only in museums but wherever people live, work and play: in libraries, science centers, historical societies, community centers, botanical gardens, schools, and shopping malls. In 2002, SITES celebrated 50 years of connecting Americans to their shared cultural heritage. Exhibitions descriptions and tour schedules are available at their website.

Gallery Information
The Albin O. Kuhn Gallery serves as one of the principal art galleries in the Baltimore region. Items from the Special Collections Department, as well as art and artifacts from all over the world, are displayed in challenging and informative exhibitions for the University community and the public. Moreover, traveling exhibitions are occasionally presented, and the Gallery also sends some of its exhibits throughout the state and nation. Admission to the Gallery is free.

UMBC’s presentation of We Shall Overcome: Photographs from the American Civil Rights Era is supported in part by an arts program grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency funded by the State of Maryland and the National Endowment for the Arts, and by the Friends of the Library & Gallery.

Hours of Operation
Sunday: Closed
Monday: 12 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday: 12 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday: 12 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Thursday: 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Friday: 12 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Saturday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

General Gallery information: 410-455-2270
UMBC Artsline (24 hour recorded message): 410-455-ARTS
Media inquiries only: 410-455-3370

UMBC Arts website:
Gallery website:
UMBC Arts News Releases:
Umbrage Editions:

Images for Media
High resolution images for media are available online: or by email or postal mail. The images in this release are available at 300 dpi on high resolution image website.


  • From Baltimore and points north, proceed south on I-95 to exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Albin O. Kuhn Library.
  • From I-695, take Exit 12C (Wilkens Avenue) and continue one-half mile to the entrance of UMBC at the intersection of Wilkens Avenue and Hilltop Road. Turn left and follow signs to the Albin O. Kuhn Library.
  • From Washington and points south, proceed north on I-95 to Exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Albin O. Kuhn Library.
  • Daytime metered visitor parking is available in the Walker Avenue Garage. Visitor parking regulations are enforced on all University calendar days. Hilltop Circle and all campus roadways require a parking permit unless otherwise marked.
  • Online campus map:


Posted by dwinds1 at April 4, 2004 12:00 AM