In the Changing Galleries

 

Road through Midnight: A Civil Rights Memorial.
Photographs and Oral Histories by Jessica Ingram

An exhibition of 30 photographic images created by photographer Jessica Ingram, who was inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, is currently on view at the State Museum. The exhibit, Road through Midnight: A Civil Rights Memorial includes both photographs and oral histories by artist Jessica Ingram. It is on view in the museum’s Changing Galleries and is free to the public. Ingram traveled to various locations in the American South associated with the turbulence of the 20th century Civil Rights era to document these important historic sites.

Telling Histories: Storytelling and Civil Rights
Saturday, Feb. 27, 1 to 4 p.m.  at the State Museum | Free Admission  | Click here to learn more
 

Ingram, a native Tennessean, is currently an assistant professor at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. The concept for the photo-documentary was inspired by Ingram’s visit to a former slave market in Montgomery, Alabama, in 2009.

“While wandering around downtown Montgomery, I found myself in front of a large, ornate fountain situated on a brick pavilion,” explained Ingram. “A historical marker said I was standing on the former Court Square Slave Market. The language on the sign presented cold facts, including the dollar values for slaves, but said nothing about the meaning of the place. I’m from the South, and was raised with an awareness of the devastating history of slavery, but this site sparked something in me that caught fire.

“I was curious about what other hidden histories and sites I might be passing as I drove around the South. So I began researching and photographing places where Civil Rights era atrocities, Klan activities, and slave trade occurred. In Pulaski, Tennessee, not far from where I grew up, I found the room where the Ku Klux Klan was founded. The original historical marker on the building has been unbolted, flipped around, and reattached so that only the back of it can be seen. I visited the banks of the Tallahatchie River, where the disfigured body of 14-year-old Emmett Till was dumped. I traveled to the Armstrong Rubber Company in Natchez, where Wharlest Jackson was murdered by a car bomb on the day he received a promotion to a job formerly reserved for whites.”

Ingram goes on to say, “In addition to taking photographs, I have been gathering historical ephemera and recording oral histories from family members of victims, Civil Rights era journalists, and investigators looking into cold cases.”

“Unlike the Court Square Slave Market back in Montgomery, there are no historical markers at the places I’ve been documenting. As the years pass and the landscape transforms itself in ways both beautiful and banal, all that remains to remind us of these events are the memories and voices of those who lived through them.”

State Museum Executive Director Lois Riggins-Ezzell said, “I was personally very moved by the concept, as well as the images, in Jessica Ingram’s photo-documentation. While many of us know the stories associated with these sites during Civil Rights era, it is disheartening to see that many of these locations continue to remain overlooked and unacknowledged even today. However, in the last couple of years, more acknowledgement has occurred.”

In 2012, New York Times reporter David Gonzales covered the project for the paper’s Lens publication. He wrote, “Ingram betrays an intensity about her work, her voice tinged with surprise at how banal some of these locations appeared, despite their role in history. She wondered if other people were even aware of what had happened there. She worried whether something was lost in other places, where some of the more famous locations had been readied for tourists.”

Road through Midnight: A Civil Rights Memorial will be on view through May 15, 2016.

 
 
 
 
Image caption: Jessica Ingram, Koinonia Farms, Americus, Georgia, 2007.
 

 





tn4me

Tennessee State Museum
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1120

FREE ADMISSION

Open: Tuesday - Saturday:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

(615) 741-2692
TOLL-FREE: 800-407-4324
museuminfo@tnmuseum.org

 

 

 





tn4me

Tennessee State Museum
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1120

FREE ADMISSION

Open: Tuesday - Saturday:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

(615) 741-2692
TOLL-FREE: 800-407-4324
museuminfo@tnmuseum.org