Exhibit presents unique 'picture' of Civil Rights Movement

The words and pictures in children’s books can inspire many things: curiosity, creativity, and — for High Museum of Art Director of Education Virginia Shearer — a big idea.

“It was the day, more than ten years ago, when the amazing author Paula Young Shelton was here at the museum reading her book, Child of the Civil Rights Movement, that illustrates her life growing up in the family of Ambassador Andrew Young,” says Shearer.

The seed planted by that book grew into “Picture the Dream: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement through Children’s Books” — a first-of-its-kind exhibit exploring the Civil Rights Movement through the artwork of children’s books.

“We know that the picture book is a powerful medium.  It’s often the first time that children encounter works of art.  They encounter them in the palms of their hand, in the laps of their grandparents,” says Shearer.  “So many children’s books are about empathy, they’re about friendship, they’re about family, they’re about collaboration.  The Civil Rights Movement is about all those things and more.”

Guest curator Andrea Davis Pinkney narrowed down the exhibit to 79 works pulled from 60 different books.  From famous figures like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to events like the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing, each image represents a vital element in the fight for Civil Rights.

“I have to say, I’ve been in museums for 20-plus years.  Nothing has felt more gratifying, or more important,” says Shearer about the exhibit.  “We need to have these conversations together.  And we need to have them with our children.”

“Picture the Dream: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement through Children’s Books” is on view at the High Museum of Art through November 8th.  For more information on visiting the museum and the current safety protocols in place due to the ongoing pandemic, click here.