New Exhibition at University of Richmond Explores Civil Rights History Through the Stories of Richmond Residents

December 19, 2018

Photo caption: Richmond resident Leonard L. Edloe. Image courtesy of Brian Palmer.

Growing Up in Civil Rights Richmond: A Community Remembers, a new exhibition organized by University of Richmond Museums, pairs oral histories with photographic portraits of 30 Richmond residents whose lives were altered by their experiences as children and youth during the civil rights movement.

Growing Up in Civil Rights Richmond will run January 18 to May 10 at the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art at the University of Richmond’s Modlin Center for the Arts.

“This history is vital to the complex story of America, as well as to understanding many of the issues that continue to face our nation and our city today,” said Richard Waller, executive director of University Museums.

The exhibition showcases vibrant, large-scale portraits created by Richmond-based visual journalist Brian Palmer. Portraits are accompanied by excerpts from interviews conducted by Laura Browder, UR’s Tyler and Alice Haynes professor of American Studies, as she spoke with participants about their personal experiences.

“Full of fortitude, resilience, and conviction, their stories offer nuanced, often linked perspectives of a Jim Crow past, that contribute to a fuller, more faithful historical narrative of our city,” said Browder. “The exhibition underscores how critical it is for these stories to be recorded and shared.”

The entire project encompasses an exhibition, educational programs for the campus and greater Richmond communities, and a 105-page catalogue featuring the interviews, portraits, as well as essays by Browder; exhibition curator Ashley Kistler; Richmond-based public historian, author, and lecturer Elvatrice Belsches; and Richmond Times Dispatch columnist Michael Paul Williams.

“Despite its wide-ranging impact, civil rights history in Richmond has received far less attention than it merits,” said Kistler. “The exhibition catalogue will serve as a lasting document of the diverse voices and faces of this group of individuals who lived through and helped shape that era locally.”

The public is invited to attend an opening reception and preview exhibition at the Harnett Museum of Art, Modlin Center for the Arts, Jan.16, 7 p.m.

Additional exhibition programming includes:

Civil Rights Richmond Gallery Walk Through, Jan. 17, 1:30 p.m.
Exhibition curator Ashley Kistler will lead a walk through the gallery.
Modlin Center for the Arts, Harnett Museum of Art

Civil Rights Richmond Exhibition Open for MLK Day, Jan. 21, 11:30 a.m.
Modlin Center for the Arts, Harnett Museum of Art

Civil Rights Richmond Panel Discussion, Jan. 27, 2 p.m.
Modlin Center for the Arts, Camp Concert Hall
Panelists will include:
     Michael Paul Williams, Richmond Times Dispatch
     Brian Palmer, photographer
     Ashley Kistler, curator
     Laura Browder, oral historian and UR American studies professor
     Elvatrice Belsches, public historian, author, and lecturer based in Richmond

Gallery Talks, Feb. 24 & Mar. 31, 2 p.m.
Modlin Center for the Arts, Harnett Museum of Art

Student Performance, April 9, 6 p.m.
Modlin Center for the Arts, Harnett Museum of Art
UR students enrolled in the course “Growing Up in Civil Rights Richmond,” taught by Browder and Patricia Herrera, associate professor of theatre, will perform their docudrama incorporating oral histories and archival materials.

All events are free and open to the public.


Organized by the University of Richmond Museums, the exhibition, related programs, and publication are made possible in part with funds from the Louis S. Booth Arts Fund and with support from the University’s Cultural Affairs Committee. The printed exhibition catalogue was made possible in part with support from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.