The W. R. Poage Legislative Library at Baylor University commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement with an exhibit featuring photographs, interactive video and other artifacts on display from February through June 2014. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
Ben Rogers, Director of the W. R. Poage Legislative Library, has been planning the "Reflections on the Civil Rights Movement" exhibit for over a year. "1964 was a significant year in America. The assassination of President Kennedy shocked the nation during a period when great social change was taking place. The Civil Rights Movement, which received a strong impetus from Martin Luther King's March on Washington in 1963 and his visit to the White House, was a significant part of these changes. The success of Martin Luther King and others who quietly changed America along with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 deserve to be commemorated as America continues to come to terms with race relations in a culturally diverse society."
The exhibit includes the verse of Langston Hughes interspersed with images from the period, editorial cartoons from the 1960s, a case about Waco native Doris Miller, a section dedicated to controversial Black Like Me author John Howard Griffin, and more. An online component to the exhibit exposes visitors to the holdings of the Poage Library and other Baylor libraries containing civil rights materials. One collection in particular, the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, has direct ties to the Civil Rights Movement in that many of the "B" sides of gospel music from this era recorded songs integral to the movement. Selections from this collection can be heard as part of the exhibit and are on display.
Erik Swanson, a museum studies graduate student at Baylor and curator of the exhibit, was moved by the spirit of those involved in the Civil Rights Movement, "The courage of leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, and Roy Wilkins, as well as that of average men and women who put their jobs, families, and lives on the line for economic and racial equality, inspired me during the process of creating this exhibit. Courage in the face of adversity is, in my opinion, the true legacy of the Civil Rights Movement."
Dean of University Libraries, Pattie Orr, noted the contribution of library exhibits to the Baylor community. "The collections held by Baylor's libraries and presented in exhibits like 'Reflections on the Civil Rights Movement' demonstrate how the Baylor Libraries enrich the academic climate at Baylor. It is important for Baylor students, some of whose parents were not yet born when the Civil Rights Act was passed, to learn about the significant figures and events from this time. Baylor faculty are enriched by exhibits like these because it exposes them to the research resources available in our archival collections."
The "Reflections on the Civil Rights Movement" exhibit is featured along with an exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in the W. R. Poage Legislative Library. The Poage Library is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.
About the W. R. Poage Legislative Library
W.R. Poage Legislative Library is a research facility that collects congressional records and personal papers related to the political history of Central Texas. It houses the papers of twelve former members of Congress, six Texas legislators, five judges, an editorial cartoon collection, extremist organizations' materials, one Lieutenant Governor's papers and records of the McLennan County Democratic Party. In addition, the library contains a map collection, an extensive campaign materials collection and a 20,000-volume book collection focusing on Congress, political history and areas of public policy.