Library hosting Emancipation Proclamation and civil rights exhibit


Photo by: Jeffery Miller

Librarians Sarah Simms (left) and Hayley Johnson (right) pose in front of a part of the exhibit “Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963.

The Ellender Memorial Library is hosting an exhibit titled “Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963.”

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History in collaboration with the American Library Association Public Programs Office will present the exhibit.

It will travel to 50 venues across the nation, and will be accompanied by public programming to help audiences understand and discuss the relationship between these two great people’s movements.

The exhibit opened on Nov. 4, and guest speaker Lynette Ater Tanner discussed the book she edited, Chained to the Land. In this book, Tanner assembled interviews from the 1930s of former slaves about their experiences during slavery and immediately after the Civil War.

On Nov. 5, Keith Finely, a history instructor from Southeastern University, discussed civil rights. Tonight, Nov. 6, adjunct history professor Jared Wells will discuss the PBS film Slavery By Another Name. The final installment of the program will be on Nov. 11 with History and Geography Department Head Paul Wilson discussing the African-American experience in WWI and WWII.

The exhibit is on display in the archives room on the first floor of the library. All events will take place at 5:30 p.m. in the library’s multi-purpose room on the third floor.

Here at Nicholls, librarians Hayley Johnson and Sarah Simms have taken the exhibit one step further, and have tied in information and pieces specific to the civil rights movement in Louisiana.

“It’s a very visual exhibition. Hayley and I decided to put together an exhibition that surrounds the traveling exhibition. The traveling exhibit is the American story of this African-American experience. We tried to bring it down to a level of Louisiana as much as we could,” Simms said.

Johnson and Simms have been working on this project for a year. They have been planning and collecting images from the Historic New Orleans Collection and the Amistad research center.

“We tried to keep our exhibit very visual to match the traveling exhibit,” Johnson said.

“There were so many amazing African-American Louisianans that were involved in the movements and change,” Simms said. “We thought we could highlight these strong, brave individuals and that would be really interesting to the students and the community.”

“We were very touched by this exhibit, so we’re hoping that people have the same reaction that we did,” Simms said.

This is the first time the library has hosted a travelling exhibit in almost 10 years. The last traveling exhibit, “Elizabeth I: Ruler and Legend,” was a part of the 2005 Jubilee.

As for student turnout, Johnson said, “We don’t know what to expect.”

“We’re hoping that word is going to spread. I think we will get a lot of community members with the exhibit itself,” Simms said.

The exhibit will be on display now through Dec. 15. Library Archives hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays.