Memphis Airport Adds Civil Rights Photographer Exhibit


By ALICIA DAVIDSON, The Daily Memphian

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis and the Memphis International Airport will co-host an exhibit showcasing the civil rights movement in Memphis County. Fayette through the photographs of freelance photographer Art Shay.

The photos will be displayed in the airport terminal for outbound flights, in front of the TSA office, from October 20 to next October.

The public will be able to view the exhibit without purchasing a ticket or going through TSA security checkpoints.

Established in 1996 by civil rights activist and former NAACP Executive Director Benjamin L. Hooks, the Hooks Institute seeks to advance civil rights and social change through multiple avenues, including education, research, and community engagement.

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Shay worked as a photographer and writer after serving in World War II. His work has appeared in Life, Time and Sports Illustrated magazines.

For more than five decades, Shay photographed some of the most intriguing figures of the 20th century, from Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton to President John F. Kennedy.

The photographer was also fascinated with the events of everyday life, which led him to take an interest in photographing the efforts of the civil rights movement, including in Fayette County in the 1960s.

Daphene McFarren is Executive Director of the Hooks Institute and is the daughter of John and Viola McFerren, two civil rights activists who played a major role in black voter registration during the Fayette County civil rights movement.

McFerren said that the fight for the right to vote did not end after the movement and that it is important for the public to remember the intense struggles of activists and citizens alike.

“What is possible, and we hope that during this time with the thousands of people who pass through this airport, the exhibition will be an inspiration for them to understand the meaning of voting and the hard fight that it was for African Americans and many people to date to vote. McFerren said. “We are a democracy, where we are growing and experimenting with what it means to be a democracy.”

Airport Authority Chairman Scott Brockman said the airport is the ideal place to display Shay’s photo because it will be seen by a population far beyond the city.

“The airport, quite frankly, is the perfect place to showcase, to reflect, to showcase Memphis as a community,” Brockman said.

“Not just the local community of people who live here and come here, but also the collective community from around the world who come to Memphis to do business, to visit as a tourist and to be able to share something of that special part of Memphis as it exists today.”

After expressing interest in extending the exhibit’s residency at the airport beyond 2023, Brockman thanked the Hook Institute for their collaboration with the Airport Authority.

“I want to thank the Hooks Institute for coming to us, partnering with us, and giving us the opportunity to be a part of this project to bring this to the community,” Brockman said.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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