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Men & Women marching during the James Meredith March for Freedom on June 22, 1966. This segment of the march was along Mississippi Highway 49 between Yazoo City and Canton.

Civil rights photography exhibition at USCB Center for the Arts Gallery

An exhibition of 50 historic photographs by documentary photographer Jim Lucas — A Past That Won’t Rest: Images of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi — will be on display from Feb. 26 through March 17 at the University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB) Center for the Arts Gallery at 801 Carteret Street. 

Robert Kennedy with young school child, 1967. Photos by Jim Lucas.

“A Past That Won’t Rest: Images of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi” is a collection of black and white photographs depicting iconic events of the Civil Rights Movement, taken by the late Jim Lucas between 1964 and 1968. These beautifully shot and meticulously restored images capture the courage and persistence of those who organized to overcome educational and economic oppression. The photos are a testament to the Ku Klux Klan’s rampant violence and murderous attacks on African Americans, Jewish members of the community, and white people who dared to speak out against Jim Crow laws. In 1964, Lucas was a college student in Jackson, Mississippi, and a young practicing photojournalist when Freedom Summer exploded. He found himself in the middle of events that would command the attention of the world. He had an instinctive eye for framing shots that visually told the story and he became a freelance photographer for Time, Life (magazine), and the Associated Press.

As stated by Marian Wright Edelman, “Jim Lucas had extraordinary, unusual access on the ground in Mississippi. For those of us who were there, the moments he captured are a powerful, sometime painful, priceless gift.” 

Through his artistry, Lucas’ work documents the search for three missing civil rights workers in Neshoba County, the Meredith March Against Fear, and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s visit to the Mississippi Delta, among others. His evocative photographs captured a human sensibility and sensitivity, providing a visual legacy of the struggle for equal rights throughout the South during this tumultuous time.

Lucas died in a car accident in 1980. His photographs were preserved and archived by Jane Hearn, his wife at the time of his death. Hearn, currently a Beaufort resident, curated this traveling exhibition that premiered at the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer held by the Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi at Tougaloo College. The exhibit then traveled to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, and to the Brown v. Board of Education Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas, prior to being shown in this South Carolina venue.

In 2018, a book by the same name was published by the University Press of Mississippi and accompanies the exhibit with more than 50 additional photographs, as well as scholarly essays that frame the history and context of the civil rights era. Copies of the book will be available at the opening reception and are also available for purchase at Nevermore Books, 702 Craven Street in Beaufort.

Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and during evening events at the Center. An opening reception and book signing will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 28.

For additional information, contact Jane Hearn at jimlucasphotographs@gmail.com or USCB Center for the Arts at 843-521-4145.

Photo at top: Meredith March Against Fear, 1966. Photo by Jim Lucas.

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