For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights

Daisy Hernandez

My Footsteps Through the Museum

As I walked into the exhibit for myself, I could automatically feel my posture straighten up. My body could sense the serious tension that lingers in the room. Walking in, my eyes were captivated by a large image to what seems to be a portrait of a black photographer.

I stepped to the right and continued my journey across the exhibit where I saw comic strips ads for Aunt Jemima. The ad was quite offensive, and the question as to how this was ever acceptable circled around in my head. I continued my steps to the back of the museum where I was pleasantly intrigued to see the first black Barbie. I wondered to myself, why did it take so long for a globally recognized company to come out with a doll that looks like their consumers?

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I took a slight step backwards and my eye stumbled upon the section of black journalism. As a digital journalism major, I found myself being consumed by the words on the wall that read, “Does it matter who creates the image?” I quietly answered to myself, “Of course it matters!”

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I ended my circuit at the museum with a display labeled, “Taking Control: Local Black Television”. This display was about the black community taking power over of what they put out into the media. This meant the whole team of writers, producers, directors, and on-camera talent was black. Let me just remind you, this is very rare to this day, therefore I applaud the radical accomplishment it created in the media.

I might have been through the exhibit, but there was still so much more information to wrap my head around. At the end of the day, my thoughts and experience will be different from everyone else. The exhibit is something you have to see with your own eyes.

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Exhibit Overview

The exhibit for For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights is being hosted at the Museum of Culture and Environment from January 30 – March 16.

The exhibit is partnering with the National Endowment for Humanities, and highlighting compelling and persuasive images and objects from Civil Rights history that changed how Americans viewed race, racism, and the struggle for equality. The exhibit showcases the first black television shows, black reporters, black Barbie, and Aunt Jemima cooking products.

Walking in Our Shoes: Tours of For All the World to See with CWU’s Black Student Leaders

Not only can you see the visuals but you can experience the museum with the people who live through the images on the walls. There will be an intimate atmosphere with “Walking in Our Shoes: Tours of For All the World to See with CWU’s black student leaders.”

Paige Hall, one of the black student leaders and coordinator for the exhibit wants to express her experience of living in Ellensburg. She wants people to critically think about situations that don’t affect them, but undeniably affect the black community. “We want people to feel uncomfortable,”says Hall. She goes on to explain that she is prepared for any backlash that may occur because she does not want anyone to interrupt the safe zone of the event. She also said, “It is good that black students on campus are given a voice, most of the time we aren’t heard.” At the end of the tours, Hall hopes that the exhibit will help black students feel more included in Ellensburg.

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Hue Magazine, September 1956. Jet Magazine, October 25, 1956. Jet Magazine, March 17, 1966. From the NEH on the Road exhibition For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights. 2011. Photo: E. G. Shempf.

The exhibit events and times are listed below.  

  • January 30 – March 16, For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights.
  • January 31, 5:00 p.m. Opening Celebration Honoring For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights
  • February 1 – Feb. 28, Civil Rights in the Pacific Northwest in the Diversity & Equity Center Black Hall 105.
  • February 7, 3:00 p.m., “Walking in Our Shoes: Tours of For All the World to See with CWU’s Black Student Leaders”
  • February 14, 11:00 a.m., “Walking in Our Shoes: Tours of For All the World to See with CWU’s Black Student Leaders”
  • February 19, 5:00 p.m., “Being Black in Ellensburg: A Safe Space for Black Students, faculty, Staff, and Community Members to Share Their Stories”
  • February 21, 11:00 a.m., “Walking in Our Shoes: Tours of For All the World to See with CWU’s Black Student Leaders”
  • February 21, 5:00 p.m., “Belonging: Can People of Color Call Ellensburg ‘Home’?”
  • February 28, 5:00 p.m., “Intersectionality and Solidarity: A Roundtable Discussion with Dr. Masonya Bennett”

For more information and museum times click here.