Race and Resegregation

Exhibit examines issues via local students’ photos

An exhibit at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center features photos by local high school students. Their subject: the resegregation of U.S. public schools.

Sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and ProPublica, “Grandchildren of Brown: Student Photos on Race in Tuscaloosa, 60 Years Later,” will run May 2-18, with an opening reception May 2 at 6:30 p.m.

The exhibit is part of a larger ProPublica project about school resegregation that coincides with the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling. “Segregation Now,” by ProPublica’s Nikole Hannah-Jones and co-published in The Atlantic, tells of schools across the nation quietly resegregating as integration mandates are lifted.

In conjunction with the story – whose narrative centers on Tuscaloosa – ProPublica asked students at one integrated school in town and one that is again nearly all-black to use cameras to document race and education through their eyes. Student photos are packaged with the students’ six-word essays on race and education, in collaboration with Michele Norris’s Race Card Project.

“As we discuss the resegregation of the South, this exhibit helps us to focus on those with the greatest stake but the smallest voice: the students,” Hannah-Jones said. “There is a stark, unpoliticized truth in these photos and the stories behind them. By holding the exhibit, we hope to invite the community to acknowledge, contemplate and discuss what’s happened – and consider the path forward.”

Dr. Robert F. Olin, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said, “The University is an important partner in the Tuscaloosa community, so we’re honored to join ProPublica in highlighting student work toward understanding our history and making our city better for it.”

The May 2 reception will include a screening of the short documentary film “Saving Central,” produced by Maisie Crow for ProPublica, and a student panel moderated by Gene Demby of NPR’s Code Switch. Both the reception and the exhibit are free and open to the public.

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