Keynote Address: 150 Years of Civil Rights in American Art

Start time: Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 @ 11:00 am – 11:45 am Eastern Time
Duration: 45 minutes

Photo Courtesy of  Richard J. Powell

Photo Courtesy of
Richard J. Powell

From its beginnings in the years immediately following the American Civil War, the campaign aimed at outlawing racial discrimination against African Americans and restoring their voting rights inspired visual documentation and creative representations of its struggles and achievements. This presentation traces these image-based responses to the “Long” Civil Rights Movement, focusing on the evidentiary, fine art, and propagandistic ways in which graphic artists, painters, sculptors, photographers, and architects in the United States acknowledged this social and political crusade, and gave “The Movement” significant artistic form.


powell_60Richard J. Powell

Duke University

Richard J. Powell is the John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art & Art History at Duke University, where he has taught since 1989. He served as a member of the Oh Freedom! website Content Advisory Council.

7 Responses to Keynote Address: 150 Years of Civil Rights in American Art

  1. Meg Griswold February 6, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    I like the idea of having students create a piece of art, whether photographer, sculpture, paint, etc. and laying text on it somehow. They could use a quote from the texts we read in our African American Lit unit. Thoughts?

    • Kent Willmann February 6, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

      For the artistically challenged students being able to pair text with images allows them to be creative and metaphoric without much art technique. Anyone and everyone can do it.

  2. Andrea Mason February 6, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    Dr. Powell, thank you for your presentation. Question: did African American artists who created political commentary art prior to the Civil Rights Movement face any retribution?

  3. Melissa Wert February 6, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    I like the idea of creating a collection of art that represents the civil rights movement- be it the major players (both proponents and opponents) or major events (timeline form). Dr. Powell introduced me to many new artists and provided some great examples to use with students.

  4. Kent Willmann February 6, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

    Love all the images in the Key Note.

    How do you choose between lots of images and a few deeply?

  5. Dontavius Williams February 6, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    I loved the images. Thank you for a great presentation Dr. Powell.

  6. Nate Melvin February 6, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    Mr. Powell, we enjoyed your presentation especially the commentary. Will your presentation be available for others to appreciate?