Bullock Museum exhibition shines a light on activist photography of the Civil Rights Movement

More than 150 poignant black-and-white images capture the struggle for equality in the 1960s

FEBRUARY 18, 2020 (AUSTIN, TX)This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement is now on view at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. The exhibition showcases more than 150 stunning photographs by activist photographers who captured the struggle against segregation, race-based disenfranchisement, and Jim Crow laws across the South in the 1960s.

“This exhibition is remarkable in its documentation and representation of the resilience of people who fought with their very lives against injustice during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s," said Bullock Museum Director Margaret Koch. "These images are powerful, honest, and real in their recording of history as it happened. I think visitors will find they strike at our hearts, speaking to the essence of both the good and evil in humanity, the continuing battle against racism and disenfranchisement, and the power of the vote.”

The exhibition features photographs by nine activist photographers whose work recorded the activities of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The photographers— Bob Adelman, George Ballis, Bob Fitch, Bob Fletcher, Matt Herron, David Prince, Herbert Randall, Maria Varela, and Tamio Wakayamas—captured highly visible events and well-known figures in the movement, as well as everyday people working together to produce a revolution in social justice.

Divided into four sections, the photographs walk visitors through everyday black life in the South, the nexus between national policies and local conditions, the varied expressions of white supremacy in southern states, and the Meredith March—the movement's last great march. Throughout these sections, audio stops encourage visitors to listen as photographers share behind-the-scenes moments of select images in their own words, and powerful large-scale photographic murals connect the themes of the exhibition to contemporary topics.

Included in the exhibition while on view at the Bullock Museum is a collection of more than a dozen images representing activism and protest in Austin's own local history. The content was originally developed by the Austin History Center as part of their 2018 exhibition Taking It to the Streets: A Visual History of Protest and Demonstration in Austin, with the majority of images coming from their collections. 

“Moving through the exhibition, we hope visitors will better understand the immensely difficult work and struggle that communities went through, and are going through, locally and nationally," said Koch. "The courage and determination portrayed are truly inspiring.”

This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement is on view until May 31, 2020. For more information, visit TheStoryofTexas.com.

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This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement is presented by the Center for Documentary Expression and Art and the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Major support for the exhibition has been provided by the Bruce W. Bastian Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, with use of the Bob Fitch photographs courtesy of the Department of Collections, Stanford University Libraries.

Sponsored locally by The Albert and Ethel Herzstein Hall Fund.

Special exhibitions are generously locally supported by Union Pacific.



The Bullock Texas State History Museum, a division of the State Preservation Board and an accredited institution of the American Alliance of Museums, illuminates and celebrates Texas history, people, and culture. With dynamic, award-winning exhibitions, educational programming for all ages, and an IMAX® theater with the largest screen in Texas, the Museum collaborates with more than 700 museums, libraries, archives and individuals across the world to bring the Story of Texas to life. For more information, visit www.TheStoryofTexas.com or call (866)369-7108.

The Bullock Texas State History Museum is a division of the Texas State Preservation Board. Additional support for educational programming provided by the Texas State History Museum Foundation.

Black and white photo of burned cross in front of a Mississippi Delta Freedom House

This press release is part of the This Light of Ours Media Kit

This Light of Ours tells a visual story of the struggle against segregation, race-based disenfranchisement, and Jim Crow laws in the 1960s. View Media Kit