Social Justice Spotlight: Finding Freedom Summer: a Traveling Exhibit

Finding Freedom Summer Logo

On Wednesday, October 5, the Miami University Art Museum hosted Noontime Chatter with special guests Jacky Johnson, Zack Tucker, Stephanie Danker, Alia Levar Wegner, and Kimberley Hoffman. The team spoke on the creation of Finding Freedom Summer: a Traveling Exhibit dedicated to teaching fourth and fifth-grade students how to work together to make positive change through the story of the 1964 Freedom Summer Training Program.

Steve Schapiro (American, 1934-2022)
We Shall Overcome, 1964
Silver gelatin print, 16 x 20 inches
Partial Gift of Stephen Schapiro and Miami University Art Museum purchase with contributions from the Kezur Endowment Fund

The Freedom Summer Training Program was a civil rights initiative held at Oxford’s Western College for Women in the year 1964. 700 volunteers/students learned how to non-violently protest, helped register 17,000 African American Mississippians to vote, and set up freedom schools. The initiatives of the Freedom Project were crucial to the efforts of the Civil Rights Movement.

Miami University faculty and staff, Panels 1-6, Finding Freedom Summer Traveling Exhibit.

Finding Freedom Summer applies the history and lessons of Freedom Summer to modern education through the means of documentation and reflection. Zack Tucker, Assistant Professor of Communication Design, spoke on how Finding Freedom Summer uses both contemporary social justice art and documentary photography to teach children how past events affect the present day, and the importance community had in the Civil Rights Movement: “We used a mix of contemporary art, documentary photography, and everyday student responses, and snapshots to show multiple perspectives on Freedom Summer from people who experienced it as well as people who are sort of living in the legacy of the summer.” Students learn lessons developed by Assistant Professor Stephanie Danker’s Intro to Art Education class. They are taught the values of activism, identity, determination, bravery, courage, passion, unity, empowerment, injustice, memory, and contribution through experimental education methods and creative art projects.

If you are interested in learning more about the behind-the-scenes of Finding Freedom Summer, such as how visuals were curated and what organizations were collaborators with this project, we encourage you to watch our Noontime Chatter interview, hyperlinked here and embedded below. We also invite you to explore artist Steve Shapiro’s photography of Freedom Summer through our Lens for Freedom Online Exhibition.