Maryland art show connects past and present in struggle for civil rights / Public News Service

A new Baltimore museum exhibit, opening to the public today, aims to tell the story of Maryland’s struggle for civil rights, past and present.

Passion and Purpose: Voices of Maryland Civil Rights Activists‘ is now on display at the Maryland Center for History and Culture. Featuring oral history and photographs, it examines how Marylanders have long been at the forefront of the national struggle for black freedom.

Linda Day Clark, a professor at Coppin State University and one of the exhibit’s advisors, said the exhibit is not about reinterpreting history, but rather allowing visitors to draw their own conclusions about events in the past draw.

“This exhibit is a great opportunity for people to come in and get a feel for what Maryland has done in the past and is still doing as part of the civil rights movement,” Clark said.

The exhibit includes oral history talks with civil rights leaders such as Juanita Jackson Mitchell, Gloria Richardson, Reverend Marion C. Bascom, and many others. It also shares more recent oral histories recorded during the 2015 Baltimore riot after Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died in police custody of a spinal cord injury.

Joshua Clark Davis, an associate professor in the Department of Legal, Ethical and Historical Studies at the University of Baltimore and an adviser on the project, said the exhibit is intended in part to show how Maryland’s civil rights movement fits into the national context.

“There were struggles against discrimination, whether it was in schools or in theaters,” Davis noted. “It’s just so important to remind people that it wasn’t something that just happened in those other places, the struggles that took place in that state were a microcosm of that national struggle.”

“Passion and Purpose” is the focus when viewed from a long-term perspective. Upcoming public events related to the exhibit include a virtual talk on black activism in Maryland next Thursday with Clark and Davis and exhibit advisor David Taft Terry, an associate professor and coordinator of the Museum Studies and Historic Preservation program at Morgan State University.

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