Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
Moving from the late days of segregation in the Deep South to the new wave of activism inspired by Black Lives Matter constitutes a long, complicated arc. You might think a series of documentaries or a deep academic study are needed to provide a full understanding of the triumphs, tragedies and people involved in that history.
But a new exhibit in Amherst examines the issue via a different lens. “Picture the Dream: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Children’s Books,” at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, looks back at the pivotal years of the 1950s and 1960s, using the work of 41 artists to tell the story of an era in which ordinary people rose up to contest centuries of injustice — and how the events of that time continue to echo today.
More than 80 works of art offer profiles of people such as Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, Rosa Parks and Jackie Robinson, as well as accounts of seminal events including the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56 and the “Freedom Summer” of 1964, the effort to register Black voters in Mississippi that was violently opposed by many whites. It’s all told with straightforward stories and imagery designed to introduce children to this dramatic era.
The exhibit — the first to examine the civil rights movement through picture books, the Carle says — was supposed to open in February to coincide with Black History Month. The museum, though, closed in December because of an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the state and is just reopening (March 11). “Picture the Dream” will now be on view into early July.
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