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Library of Congress Presents Talks and Films Focusing on Civil Rights Movement

Library’s Exhibition “A Long Struggle for Freedom” Continues Through Sept. 2015


The Library of Congress will present events in January and February that examine the Civil Rights Movement, including a talk by author Clay Risen about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a discussion about Rosa Parks, a film series and a talk for teens about the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March.

The programming complements the Library’s exhibition “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom,” which is free and open to the public Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Southwest Gallery on the second level of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The last day is Sept. 12, 2015.

The exhibition, which displays more than 200 items, highlights the legal and legislative challenges and victories leading to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, shedding light on the individuals—both prominent leaders and private citizens—who participated in the decades-long campaign for equality.

The lectures and gallery talks will take place in January in the Thomas Jefferson Building in the rooms listed below. The film series will be held in February in the Mary Pickford Theater on the third floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. All events are free and open to the public. Tickets are not needed.

Lectures and Gallery Talks
  • On Wednesday, Jan. 14, at 10:30 a.m. in the Whittall Pavilion on the ground level of the Jefferson Building, the Library will hold a talk on “Turning 15 On the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March,” a book by Lynda Blackmon Lowery as told to Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley. Lowery was the youngest person at the famous march. All three authors will provide background and historical perspective about the Civil Rights Movement, as well as specific details of Lowery’s role in the pivotal event. The talk is hosted by The Young Readers Center and the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress, as part of the “Books and Beyond for Young People” program. Artifacts and memorabilia will be on exhibit, and a book signing will follow the presentation.
  • On Thursday, Jan. 15, at 12:30 p.m., Elaine Steele, a longtime associate of civil rights leader Rosa Parks and co-founder of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development; Ella McCall Haygan, co-director of the Parks Institute Pathways to Freedom Youth Program in Washington, D.C.; and Anita Peek, the executive director of the institute, will share recollections of Parks. The talk precedes the anticipated opening later this year of the Rosa Parks Collection at the Library of Congress for research and the incorporation of items from the collection into the Library’s current exhibition “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom.” The lecture is co-hosted by the Library and its chapter of Blacks in Government.
  • On Wednesday, Jan. 21, at noon, in the exhibition gallery of “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom” in the Jefferson Building, James Hutson, chief of the Library’s Manuscript Division, will provide a brief history of how the term “civil rights” evolved through the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • On Wednesday, Jan. 28, at noon, in room 119 of the Jefferson Building, Clay Risen will discuss and sign his book “The Bill of the Century: The Epic Struggle for the Civil Rights Act” (2014). Risen, a senior editor with the New York Times, also wrote “A Nation on Fire: America in the Wake of the King Assassination.” The book talk is hosted by the Library’s Interpretive Programs Office, the Serial and Government Publications Division, and the Law Library of Congress.

Film Series

  • On Wednesday, Feb. 4, at noon: “Sit-In” (NBC White Paper, broadcast Dec. 20, 1960). One of the first prime-time documentaries on the Civil Rights Movement, NBC’s “Sit-In” profiled the Nashville movement – called by Martin Luther King Jr. “the best organized and most disciplined in the Southland” – and its efforts to desegregate the city’s department store lunch counters, with revealing footage and interviews by participants, including leader Diane Nash and John Lewis, now a member of Congress.
  • On Wednesday, Feb. 11, at noon: “Walk in My Shoes” (ABC Close-Up! broadcast Sept. 19, 1961). Called “a stunning accomplishment” by the New York Times, ABC’s “Walk in My Shoes” was produced and narrated by African-American journalist Louis Lomax. According to the New York Amsterdam News, the film presented to American audiences “for the first time . . . the opportunity to see and hear Negroes from all walks of life discuss their viewpoints.”
  • On Wednesday, Feb. 18, at noon: “Confronted” (National Educational Television; broadcast Dec. 2, 1963). As Congress deliberated civil rights legislation in Washington, National Educational Television (NET), the precursor to PBS, examined hostile white responses throughout the nation to African-American demands for “freedom now.” “Confronted” was shot by pioneering cinéma vérité filmmakers David and Albert Maysles.
  • On Wednesday, Feb. 25, at noon: "Filibuster – Birth Struggle of a Law (CBS Reports; broadcast March 17, 1964). As Southern senators prepared to filibuster the civil rights bill, CBS Reports reviewed the bill’s history and presented a live debate from the U.S. Capitol between Sen. Hubert Humphrey, the floor manager of the fight to pass the bill, and Sen. Strom Thurmond, one of its fiercest opponents.

The film series is being hosted by the Library’s Interpretive Programs Office and its National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, the Library of Congress Daniel A. P. Murray African-American Historical Association, and the Library of Congress chapter of Blacks in Government. The series is being held in conjunction with Black History Month.

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom” exhibition is made possible by a generous grant from Newman’s Own Foundation, with additional support from HISTORY for both audiovisual and educational outreach.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at

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