New Exhibition at The Columbus Museum Spotlights the Civil Rights Movement

Tuesday, January 11th, 2022

The Columbus Museum’s new exhibition, Journey Toward Justice: The Civil Rights Movement in the Chattahoochee Valley, opens on January 15, 2022. Themes and topics include the beginnings of a southern freedom movement and the effects of Jim Crow segregation; the role of Black institutions as a source of community pride and a breeding ground for activists; the influence of Fort Benning; direct public actions that led to the desegregation of public and private spaces; the cycle of generational violence and intimidation that activists faced; and continued civil rights activism in the 21st century. These stories will be told with more than 160 artifacts, documents, and images from nearly a dozen private lenders, as well as the collections of The Columbus Museum and special collections libraries at Columbus State University, the University of Georgia, and Emory University. The exhibition will also feature archival footage of protests and interviews with community members, local civil rights activists, and historians. An advisory group of 25 individuals has been meeting with Museum staff monthly to play a key role in shaping the exhibition.

Cities such as Atlanta, Albany, Montgomery, and Birmingham often dominate discussions of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. However, the Chattahoochee Valley has been the site of regular cycles of civil rights activism, allyship, and backlash throughout the past century. Advances in civil rights that proved significant at the national and state levels happened from the 1940s through the 1970s, and vibrant activism continues in the community today.

“Working with our community to uncover and share Columbus’ civil rights stories has been meaningful and thrilling,” says Columbus Museum Curator of History, Rebecca Bush. “I’m excited for the Museum to play a role in highlighting the Civil Rights Movement in the Chattahoochee Valley – a rich and exciting history that deserves to be remembered alongside the stories of other southern cities.”

There will be a robust slate of programs accompanying this exhibition. An opening celebration will be held on January 15 featuring guided tours for all ages, a collaborative art-making project, and more. On February 17, there will be a roundtable discussion with movement leaders who organized and participated in local direct action in the 1960s. There will be a morning session specifically for high school students and an evening session for the public. Guided tours and workshops will also be available throughout the run of the exhibition to interested schools and community groups. To learn more, please visit the Museum’s website or contact Lucy Kacir, Director of Education & Engagement, at lkacir@columbusmuseum.com.

We are excited to share this project, including a dynamic program series, with our community. The exhibition will open on January 15, 2022 and will be on view until October 16, 2022. The exhibition is generously sponsored by Aflac. This project is also supported by Georgia Humanities, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, through funding from the Georgia General Assembly.