Although there have been numerous movements in favor of the rights of different groups in the United States, the term is generally used to refer to the struggles that took place between 1955 and 1968 to end discrimination against African-Americans and eliminate racial segregation, especially in the southern States.
Significant events such as the murder of Emmett Till in the summer of 1955, the impact of the action of Rosa Parks (the “mother of the Civil Rights Movement”), who on December 1, 1955 refused to get up from her seat on a public bus to leave it to a white passenger. Rosa was arrested, tried and sentenced for disorderly conduct and for violating a local law. When the incident was known among the black community, fifty African-American leaders met and organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott to protest the segregation of blacks and whites on public buses; The Civil Rights Movement received an injection of energy when students from Greensboro, North Carolina, Nashville, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia began to “occupy” the counters of local shops at lunchtime in protest of the segregation of the establishments. The demonstrators did not focus only on the food counters, but also on parks, beaches, bookstores, cinemas, museums and other public places.
These and many other incidents and demonstrations were the beginning of the reaction of the American people to racial segregation and discrimination and the limitations of minorities to the right to vote.
Today I have a dream! I have a dream that one day in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
| The March from Selma to Montgomery, the so-called “Bloody Sunday,” marks a milestone in this story. For 53 years, this march has been celebrated in remembrance of those events. Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, we intend to prepare an exhibition that will illustrate three visions of this march and its annual celebration in Selma. This exhibition unites the significant original historic images of the Civil Rights struggles with the repetition of this pilgrimage at the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama by the photojournalist Spider Martin, current images of the artists Karen Graffeo and Julio Larramendi and their students of photography will be exhibited in Havana, Cuba. Why Cuba? Cuba’s solidarity with the Civil Rights Movement began with Fidel Castro’s visit to New York in 1960, when he stayed at the Theresa Hotel in Harlem and his meetings with African-American leaders such as Malcom-X and others and continued with the visits to Cuba of personalities such as Angela Davis, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Lucius Walker and many others. In 1965 the Cuban documentary maker Santiago Alvarez produced what is considered the first video-clip: “NOW” with the music of Lena Horn and images of the repression of black protesters in the United States. And Now is the appropriate theme for the practice of | this pilgrimage which allows every participant to walk in the footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King, John Lewis, Andrew Young, Rosa Parks, Amelia Boyton and others. We celebrate the opportunity to experientially photograph in the same perspective of the great Spider Martin. He positioned between the weapons held by the police and the determination of those walking to demonstrate that Civil Rights are human rights. We nurture our students in the practice of courage to photograph as witnesses to the truth of these days. With this exhibition we offer Walter Benjamin’s definition of history: “History is an angel being blown backwards into the future. History is a pile of debris, and the angel wants to go back and fix things, to repair things that have been broken. But there is a storm blowing from Paradise, and this storm keeps blowing the angel backwards into the future. And this storm is called Progress.” We have the dream to take our students to the highest practice of this definition of history. Thank you to Tracy Martin and all who offered the opportunity to share the history then and NOW.
Julio Larramendi /Karen Graffeo