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Posted on: March 17, 2023

The Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center Unveils I AM A MAN

The 1960-1970 decade was a momentous time for the civil rights movement in the American South.  It was a historic decade that unleashed hopes for the future and profound change as public spaces were desegregated and African Americans secured their right to vote.  IAM A MAN: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1960-1970, displays a wide range of photographs taken by amateurs, local photojournalists, and internationally known photographers.  Together they provide a vivid visual story of the evolution of civil rights and shed light on the movement’s integration into daily living in the American South.  I AM A MAN: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1960-1970, opens on April 8th, 2023, at the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center.  


Southern folklorist, author, and curator William Ferris and his research team sought out photos taken in the heat of the civil rights movement by activists or local news photographers, who documented history taking place before their eyes.  Viewers of the exhibition will recognize the photographs of protestors who carried signs with messages like “I AM A MAN” or sat at segregated lunch counters as iconic images associated with the movement. In contrast, numerous other photographs presented in the exhibition have rarely been seen until now.  Key events include James Meredith’s admission to the University of Mississippi, Ku Klux Klan gatherings, the Selma Montgomery March in Alabama, the sanitation workers’ strike in Memphis, Martin Luther King’s funeral, the Poor People’s Campaign, and the Mule Train. The decade was a pivotal moment that marked change and reminded us how far we have to go.  The photographs in I AM A Man: Civil Rights Photographs in the American South, 1960-1970, remind us of their enduring resonance today and beyond as future generations continue to fight for justice for all humankind.


This exhibition has been adapted from an exhibition initially produced for the Pavilion in Montpellier, France, by the Center for Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  The French exhibition was funded by the City of Montpellier and administered by Gilles Mora, director of the Pavilion Populaire.


Exhibition: I AM A MAN: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1960-1970

Host Organization: Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center

Runs: April 8 – May 27, 2023

Gallery Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Location: 400 High Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704-3622

Admission: $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for ages 2-17, seniors, AAA, and military with I.D.

Contact: 757-393-8543, 


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