Civil rights

Memphis Airport Adds Civil Rights Photographer Exhibit

By ALICIA DAVIDSON, The Daily Memphian

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (AP) — The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis and Memphis International Airport will co-host an exhibit depicting the civil rights movement in Fayette County through the photographs of freelance photographer Art Shay.

The photographs will be displayed in the airport terminal for departing flights, across from the TSA office, from October 20 through October.

The public will be able to view the exhibit without purchasing a ticket or going through TSA security checkpoints.

Established in 1996 by Benjamin L. Hooks, civil rights activist and former executive director of the NAACP, the Hooks Institute seeks to advance civil rights and social change through multiple avenues, including education, research, and engagement. community.

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Shay worked as a photographer and writer after serving in World War II. His work has appeared in Life, Time and Sports Illustrated magazines.

For more than five decades, Shay has photographed some of the most intriguing personalities of the 20th century, from Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton to President John F. Kennedy.

The photographer was also fascinated by the events of everyday life, which led to his interest in photographing the efforts of the civil rights movement, particularly in Fayette County in the 1960s.

Daphene McFarren is executive director of the Hooks Institute and is the daughter of John and Viola McFerren, two civil rights activists who were instrumental in black voter registration during the Fayette County civil rights movement.

McFerren said the fight for the right to vote did not end after the movement, and that it is important for the public to remember the intense struggles of activists and citizens.

“Which is possible, and we hope during this time with the thousands of people who pass through this airport, that the exhibition will be an inspiration for them to understand the importance of the vote and what a hard fight it has been for African Americans and many people to date to vote,” McFerren said. “We are a democracy, where we grow and experience what it means to be a democracy.

Airport Authority Chairman Scott Brockman said the airport is the perfect place to display Shay’s photographs, as a population far beyond the city will see them.

“The airport, quite frankly, is the place to display, to reflect, to show Memphis as a community,” Brockman said.

“Not just the local community of people who live here and come here, but also the collective community of the world who come to Memphis to do business, to visit as a tourist, and to be able to share a part of this special part of Memphis such as it exists today.

After expressing interest in extending the exhibit’s residency at the airport beyond 2023, Brockman thanked the Hook Institute for working with the Airport Authority.

“I want to thank the Hooks Institute for coming to us, partnering with us, and giving us the opportunity to be part of this project to bring this to the community,” Brockman said.

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