CONNECTING PAST AND PRESENT
“For All the World to See” makes history tangible for students
One thousand high school students from across the region visited East Carolina University’s campus last week but it wasn’t for an admissions tour.
They came to experience a performance of “Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till” and “For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights,” a National Endowment for the Humanities traveling exhibit on display at Joyner Library.
In Wright Auditorium, students from Ayden-Grifton, Beaufort County Early College, CM Eppes, Gates County, Innovation Early College, North Pitt, Oakwood, Pitt County Early College, Riverside, South Central and Washington high schools watched playwright and actor Mike Wiley bring Emmett Till’s murder and the ensuing trial to life.
“We’re always pleased to partner to enhance experiences such as Joyner Library’s exhibition. Mike Wiley’s performances are well researched, provocative and reflect an important component of the American experience,” said Michael Crane, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication.
These upcoming events complement the exhibit:
• Cash Michaels, film producer and award-winning journalist, will discuss the role and importance of African American-run news media. Michaels writes for African American community newspapers across North Carolina including The Wilmington Journal, The Carolina Times and The Carolina Peacemaker.
Oct. 2, 4 p.m., Joyner Library
• Zena Howard, architect and principal at Perkins & Will in Durham, has designed spaces including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and Greenville’s Sycamore Hill Gateway Plaza. Her visit is presented in partnership with ECU’s Office for Equity and Diversity and the City of Greenville.
Oct. 10, 6 p.m., Main Campus Student Center
• Hank Klibanoff, journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning co-author of “The Race Beat,” will discuss civil rights cold cases and why they matter.
Oct. 14, 4:30 p.m., Joyner Library
Heather White, assistant director for assessment and engagement at Joyner said, “We wanted to bring this exhibition to ECU because it’s not just a presentation of the history of the civil rights movement, but a journey through the ways that powerful images influenced how people perceived race and the struggle for equal rights. This exhibit follows how images on screen and in the media made people think beyond the prevailing perceptions from the time and transformed the civil rights movement.”
High school students aren’t the only ones visiting the exhibit. Several ECU faculty members have held recent class sessions at Joyner Library. Cheryl Dudasik-Wiggs brought her four English classes to the exhibit and encouraged them to see “Dar He.”
“I crafted my fall syllabi to complement these powerful offerings, including readings of Gwendolyn Brooks’ ‘A Bronzeville Mother…’ poem and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” she said.
“Both allude to Emmett Till, but I was surprised to learn that only seven of the 100 students in my ENGL 1100 classes knew Till’s story. Students were enthralled, curious and emotional; and many expressed dismay that they had never heard of the 14-year-old’s murder. And as students walked around the displays, they drew parallels between the slanted news of the past and the often-unbalanced news of the present.
The exhibit humanized the lesson and showed them the importance of succinct and well-researched writing” Dudasik-Wiggs added.
“We are so excited to have the National Endowment for Humanities On the Road exhibition ‘For All the World to See’ at Joyner Library,” said Charlotte Fitz Daniels, events and program coordinator. “Our hope is that this exhibit will help ECU students and the wider community examine mainstream images and come to their own conclusions about what images are harmful as well as which are empowering for everyone.”
“For All the World to See” is at Joyner Library’s Janice Hardison Faulkner Gallery through Oct. 20.