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Extraordinary Images: "The Whole World Was Watching: Civil Rights-Era Photographs"

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This selection of photography from a collection given to the Menil by Edmund Carpenter and Adelaide de Menil documents the Civil Rights struggles of the late '50s and early '60s, when the exhibit's title phrase, "The Whole World Was Watching," was adopted by activists and political groups as a rallying cry for change. It refers, of course, to the advent of television and the ability for wide dissemination of images depicting racial injustice in the southern United States.

The exhibit documents the signs of segregation, the presence of the KKK, battles with law enforcement and the cruel practice of blasting protesters with water from high-pressure fire hoses, and it also displays the nonviolent marches, moments of solidarity and other images that embody the race relations of the times, as seen through the lenses of six photographers.

Bruce L. Davidson's Woman being held by two policeman captures a protester being detained in front of a movie theater whose marquee adds intriguing commentary to the image. A young African-American man in whiteface, with the word "vote" written across his forehead, marches in another photo by Davidson. And Martin Luther King, Jr. happily shakes hands with women from his car in Leonard Freed's image Maryland. They're just a few of the extraordinary images on display.

The exhibit runs through September 25 at the Menil Collection, 1515 Sul Ross. For information, call 713-525-9400.

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