“1968: Civil Rights at 50”

On display through Jan. 2, 2019 | Level 4

“1968: Civil Rights at 50” explores the tumultuous events that shaped the civil rights movement in 1968, when movement leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, unleashing anger and anguish across the country. Historic images and print news artifacts highlight the landmark events of the year, including the Orangeburg massacre, when three unarmed black teenagers were killed by police during protests at South Carolina State College; the sanitation workers strike in Memphis; and the Poor People’s Campaign in Washington, D.C., designed to draw attention to poverty and economic inequality. The exhibit also traces the dramatic social and political upheavals that formed the backdrop to these events, from anti–Vietnam War protests to the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and a defiant protest for human rights at the Mexico City Olympics. The deaths of King and Kennedy, two giants of civil rights and social change, left the nation reeling. King’s legacy of nonviolence was challenged by the rising militancy of Black Power — a movement that captured the confrontational spirit of the turbulent year. “1968: Civil Rights at 50” examines the relationship between the First Amendment and the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

The exhibit includes:

  • An original Newseum-produced film, “Justice for All,” about the protests by track and field medal winners John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics that resonate with today’s NFL protests. The film features interviews with NFL player Michael Bennett, Harry Edwards, co-founder of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, author and sports historian Dave Zirin and USA TODAY columnist Christine Brennan.
  • Newspapers and magazines from the Newseum’s collection of 40,000 print news artifacts, including Jet magazine’s reporting on the Orangeburg massacre and the Poor People’s Campaign; the New Left Notes underground newspaper; a Life magazine featuring photography by Gordon Parks; Ebony, Life and the Los Angeles Evening Herald & Sunday Herald Examiner reporting on King’s death and legacy; and an issue of The Black Panther reporting on the 1968 Olympics protest.
  • Unofficial Vietnam War patches celebrating the role black soldiers played.
  • A pennant from the Poor People’s Campaign protest in Washington, D.C.
  • Buttons from the 1968 presidential campaigns of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon.

Top photo credit: Jack Thornell/The Associated Press

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Contributing support for “1968: Civil Rights at 50” has been provided by Altria Group.

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