Telling His Story: In Memory of Dr. King

Miami University Art Museum Dr. King collection

On Monday we commemorate a man who changed the history of the black community forever. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a father, son, husband, brother, an American baptist minister, but most notably an activist. When reflecting on the civil rights movement, for most, the first name that comes to mind is Dr. King.

Here at the art museum, not only are we honoring Dr. King, but the whole community he gave his life for. Telling A People’s Story: African-American Children’s Illustrated Literature opens on January 30, and runs through June 30. All the works in the exhibition are illustrations from children’s books that discuss African-American culture and history, from beginnings in Africa up until modern day.

Illustration from A Sweet Smell of Roses by Eric Valazquez

The idea for this exhibition started with Jason E. Shaiman (Curator of Exhibitions), Dr. Brenda Dales (lecture at Miami University and a specialist in children’s literature), along with other faculty and scholars in the world of children’s literature. The began by brainstorming how they could incorporate illustrations into an exhibition in a new and completely unique way that touches on identity.

While the black student body at Miami is a minority, it is anticipated that this exhibit will contribute to a better understanding of black history in America by the entire University community.Shaiman believes that this exhibit can not only enrich the lives of African Americans, but also act as a teaching tool to children and adults alike.

While many black historical figures are depicted throughout the exhibit Dr. King has some of the most striking illustrations. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is featured in seven works by four different illustrators. The books the works come from are: My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by A.G. Ford, The Cart that Carried Martin by Don Tate, March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World by London Ladd and A Sweet Smell of Roses by Eric Valesquez.

The exhibit is not only a celebration of African-American illustrators, but it is also an educational experience on how children’s books can be tied into history lessons. The main difference between illustration work and fine art is that the illustrations are based on manuscripts. While many children’s book illustrations can be considered ‘cartoonish’ the work in this exhibit is anything but, it is truly striking and meaningful.

Telling A People’s Story – Dr. King installation.

Dr. King spent his life advocating for the black community and recognition of all of their history and hardships. In this exhibition you will take a journey into the past to experience African-American life in a unique way and see how the journey leads through civil rights and into today’s society.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.