Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a key leader of the nonviolent movement and a founder and leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which organized many of the South’s effective civil rights campaigns. While King and the SCLC were important in the civil rights movement, activists started campaigns independently. In Memphis during the early 1960s, protestors started legal battles over bus, library and park desegregation and staged direct action protests in downtown Memphis. King became involved in the movement in Memphis in early 1968 when striking sanitation workers asked him to speak on their behalf. An assassin killed him in downtown Memphis on April 4, 1968, days before he was to lead a nonviolent march. Fifty years after this tragedy, we remember his dream.
Remembering the Dream tells the chronological story of the Civil Rights movement depicted by Ernest Withers’ I Am a Man portfolio. The exhibit will display ten photographs by Withers, on long-term loan to the Pink Palace, with interpretive panels accompanying the images. Also on display will be an original I AM A MAN placard, dropped after the march, as well as other Civil Rights-era artifacts such as a flyer from the August 28, 1963, March on Washington, a cover letter from the Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Memphis addressing the workers’ complaints, and a paystub showing dues paid by a union striker.
The major focal point of the exhibit is a mural of Withers’ iconic I AM A MAN photograph repeated around the gallery walls.