Growing Up in Civil Rights Richmond

Growing Up in Civil Rights Richmond: A Community Remembers, a new exhibition organized by University of Richmond Museums in collaboration with guest curator Ashley Kistler, 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.

The exhibition showcases vibrant, large-scale portraits created by Richmond-based visual journalist Brian Palmer. They portray 30 Richmonders who participated in different ways in the Civil Rights Movement in Richmond, many of them as children. The portraits are a collaboration between photographer and sitter - each person has clearly chosen the way in which he or she wants to be seen, and a visitor to the galleries cannot dismiss these powerful people and their courage and determination. Each portrait is 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.

Growing Up in Civil Rights Richmond shines a beautiful light on the importance of honest conversations about the ways in which race shapes our experiences. Through these portraits and the accompanying stories, the participants are reclaiming African American history and then connecting it to the rest of Richmond history in innovative and wonderful ways.

Growing Up in Civil Rights Richmond: A Community Remembers, is on view at the University of Richmond’s Harnett Museum of Art through May 10th, 2109.

People have kept their stories alive. It’s just that the larger conventional white narrative hasn’t recognized it. So we are not necessarily pioneers or crusaders or anything like that. We are recognizing what’s there and we are breaking down the wall to that mainstream narrative which a spent a very long time ignoring these other stories. . . . There’s no need for violence, there’s no need for contest - there’s need for listening. The stories are here. What if we made the true story of massive resistance and what people had to do to overcome it. This, to me, is what is so powerful. We can learn, we can know these stories, and through these stories we can knit a robust, a thick narrative thread that you cannot break.
— Brain Palmer

Paige hosts the LookSEE podcast and is a freelance audio producer, an art lover, and a lifelong Richmonder. Her favorite place to be is in a museum. A close second is a bookstore.