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Celebrating Black History Month

By Margaret A. Keough

montage of images of photographs and visual artworks

Happy Black History Month!

All year long, we share the powerful stories of Black Americans and their diasporic culture through M-AAA programs and our touring exhibition program ExhibitsUSA. This month, we’re highlighting a few of those exhibitions and stories of Black artists and creatives throughout our region. Follow along and celebrate with us on Instagram at @MidAmericaArtsAlliance.

A reporter interviewing the first African American student to enroll at University of Mississippi in 1962.

Here are a few of those stories currently on tour:

This photograph of James Meredith (pictured above right) comes from our touring exhibition I AM A MAN: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1960–1970. After a lengthy legal battle, on October 1, 1962, Meredith became the first African American student to enroll at the University of Mississippi.

Photography Credits

Black History Month collage (Top, L-R):

  • Bob Willoughby (American, 1927 – 2009), Johnny Mathis at home in Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills, CA, 1958; ink on paper, 18 x 12 inches; Courtesy of Elliott Gallery. © The Bob Willoughby Photo Archive.
  • Jim Peppler, Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking to an audience at Brown Chapel in Selma, Alabama, Selma, AL, 1966; photograph, 13 x 8 5/8 inches; Courtesy Alabama Department of Archives and History.
  • Robert L. Stone, Florida East Coast State Assembly, House of God, Pompano Beach,Florida, 2001; digital print on aluminum, 11 x 17 inches; Courtesy of the Arhoolie Foundation.
  • Ransom “Rocky” McCormick (b. 1975), Moved by the Words, c. 2001; Paint on canvas, 39 x 51 inches; Courtesy of Private Collection.
  • Jeanine Michna-Bales, Decision to Leave. Magnolia Plantation on the Cane River, Louisiana, 2013; digital C-print, 25 x 36 inches; © Jeanine Michna-Bales. 
  • Dr. Ruth Mae McCrane (1929-2002), Preservation Hall: Street Scene, 1992; Paint on canvas board, 18 x 24 inches; Courtesy of Private Collection.
  • Robert L. Stone, Jay ‘Fingertips’ Caver, House of God, Deerfield Beach, Florida, 2003; digital print on aluminum, 17 x 11 inches; Courtesy of the Arhoolie Foundation.
  • Bob Willoughby (American, 1927 – 2009), Billie Holiday performing at the Tiffany Club, Los Angeles, CA, 1952; ink on paper, 12 x 12 inches; Courtesy of Elliott Gallery. © The Bob Willoughby Photo Archive.
  • Art Shay, James Meredith being interviewed, Oxford, MS, 1962; photograph, 10 x 6 ó inches; © 2019 Art Shay Archive Projects llc. Unknown, U.S. National Guard troops block off Beale Street as Civil Rights marchers wearing placards reading I AM A MAN pass by on March 29, 1968, Memphis, TN, March 29, 1968; photograph, 12 x 18 inches; Courtesy Getty Images. (Also pictured in body text.)
  • Jeanine Michna-Bales, Wading Prior to Blackness. Grant Parish, Louisiana, 2014; digital C-print, 17 x 24 1/2 inches; © Jeanine Michna-Bales.
  • Bob Willoughby (American, 1927 – 2009), Louis Armstrong backstage at the Bal Tabarin, Los Angeles, CA, 1950; ink on paper, 12 x 18 inches; Courtesy of Elliott Gallery. © The Bob Willoughby Photo Archive.
  • Roy Ferdinand (1959-2004), Fallen Idol, c. 1992; Colored pencil, markers, and watercolor on poster board, 28 x 22 inches; Courtesy of Private Collection.