Symbols of History

News Channel 3’s Alex Coleman came by this morning to talk to our Chief Curator Marina Pacini about an upcoming auction of “Printed & Manuscript African Americana” by the the Swann Auction Galleries.  Mike Lollar of The Commercial Appeal wrote an article about it in today’s paper. Among the items up for auction (click here for Swann’s full catalogue) are a number of items from the Civil Rights movement, including one of very few surviving copies of the original poster carried by Memphis sanitation workers during the 1968 strike, bearing the message I AM A MAN.

One of the things that makes these posters so significant, Marina explains, is that this simple sentence, just a few words, so powerfully expresses the fundamental statement of Civil Rights.  It is also remarkable because the placards themselves were made from cardboard, that this one was kept and is in such good condidtion.

Also up for auction are photographs by Ernest Withers.  The Brooks considers ourselves very lucky to have a collection of Withers’ work, and we have a permanent tribute to the ground-breaking photographer in our rotunda. There is always one of his photographs on display on this special wall so visitors are able to see these historical images anytime they come in.  It is access to visual resources such as these, Marina says, that allows people to learn about and experience history in a new way.

The WREG story will appear sometime after 5pm today.

Read more about the museum’s collection of works on paper here.

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