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'Long Walk to Freedom' Show Honors Civil Rights Activists


"St. Philip's Church," circa 1920. The Schomburg Collection.

The landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education sparked the civil rights movement, which brought together people from all walks of life in the struggle for social justice. "The Long Walk to Freedom: Portraits of Civil Rights Activists Then and Now," a photography and oral history exhibit in the Low Rotunda that opened recently, documents their story; it is a living-history program that celebrates the power of the individual to make a difference. The show honors 28 '60s activists who advocated for civil rights in the South and the leaders of nine youth organizations making a difference today. The exhibit runs through March 31 and is sponsored by Columbia in partnership with Community Works and New Heritage Theatre Group.


The opening night's program on Tuesday, Feb. 3, featured performances by Freedom Singer Matt Jones and Harlem 's IMPACT Repertory Theatre. Students, administrators and faculty, as well as President Lee C. Bollinger and his wife, Jean Magnano Bollinger, attended. Guest speakers representing the activists included C. Virginia Fields, Manhattan borough president; Clarence Jones, CC' 53, former speech writer for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and Roberta Yancey, BC '62, an organizer and activist.


The exhibit celebrates local activist-heroes of the civil rights movement such as Robert Allen, Frances M. Beal and Bob Moses.


The exhibit also honors nine youth organizations of today: CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS), I Love Our Youth, Make the Road by Walking, South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!), Sista II Sista, the Brotherhood/Sister Sol, Voices of Youth and Youth Empowerment Mission.


New Heritage Theatre Group is the oldest Black not-for-profit theater organization in New York City . Founded in 1964 by Roger Furman, New Heritage has been under the artistic direction of Jamal Joseph since 1997. Joseph is a Columbia professor in the School of the Arts, a screenwriter, director and producer. Voza Rivers is executive producer and co-founding member of New Heritage. Together, they produce works of historical and political relevance reflecting the experiences of African, African-American and Latino descendents in America and abroad.


New Heritage has come full circle in its involvement with Columbia . In 1968, Columbia provided space on Saturdays for New Heritage to conduct workshop classes for community residents. Community Works was founded in 1990, and its mission is to forge links between diverse cultures and communities, to improve educational attainment and to extend benefits of arts to all people.

Published: Feb 03, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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