What is “Voices of the Civil Rights Movement?”

“Voices of the Civil Rights Movement” is the name of an online and walk-up exhibit that combines two interactive media projects: “His Dream, Our Stories” and “Moments in Civil Rights History.” It brings to life the civil rights movement with 157 powerful testimonials from 130 civil rights leaders and participants, and 52 historical video spotlights.

“His Dream, Our Stories” began as an online project created by Comcast in 2013 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The highlight of that event was Martin Luther King Jr.’s impassioned “I Have a Dream” speech, which became the rallying cry for the movement. “His Dream, Our Stories” presented interviews with people who organized and fought for justice and equality in 1963 leading up to the March on Washington. The project was expanded to share first-hand accounts of the overall civil rights movement beyond the March on Washington.

In 2014, Comcast partnered with the Equal Justice Initiative to create 52 additional spotlight videos called “Moments in Civil Rights History.” Narrated by judge, civil rights activist, author and film actor D’Army Bailey, “Moments in Civil Rights History” illustrates significant incidents in America’s journey to civil rights, from our country’s founding through the 1970s.

“Voices of the Civil Rights Movement” combines these two video archives into one interactive exhibit available on this website and at a walk-up kiosk at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., and at an exhibit at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn. Viewers are encouraged to add their own stories to the collection.

What years are covered in the project?

The first-hand accounts in the exhibit primarily cover the African-American civil rights movement in the 20th century with a focus on key events from 1954 through 1968. Narrative segments highlight historical events from 1619 through 1973. Visitors will experience the voices and events of that period as well as their contextual history and impact on contemporary America.

Who are the people behind “Voices of the Civil Rights Movement?”

“Voices of the Civil Rights Movement” is a collaborative effort between Comcast NBCUniversal and the Equal Justice Initiative. It presents interviews with people who fought for justice and equality during the civil rights movement and those who have continued to work for social justice ever since. “Moments in Civil Rights History” videos are hosted by the late D’Army Bailey, notable American lawyer, circuit court judge, civil rights activist, author and film actor.

How did this project begin?

The project was born from Comcast NBCUniversal’s desire to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Team members felt that, as the company with the largest media reach in the country, Comcast NBCUniversal could help bring awareness to the important stories and events of the civil rights era, giving them new meaning and texture while also bringing them online to a new audience.

What is the mission of this project?

The main purpose of the “Voices of the Civil Rights Movement” is to create an educational resource that brings awareness to civil rights issues, inspires people to tell their own stories involving the struggle for social justice, and encourages students and others to learn more about this crucial period in American history.

What is the Equal Justice Initiative?

The Equal Justice Initiative is a private, nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system. The group litigates on behalf of condemned prisoners, juvenile offenders, people wrongly convicted or charged with violent crimes, poor people denied effective representation, and others whose trials are marked by racial bias or prosecutorial misconduct.

Where are the walk-up exhibits?

A kiosk is located at the entrance to “Make Some Noise: Students and the Civil Rights Movement,” a civil rights exhibit that opened at the Newseum in Washington. The Newseum is located at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC. A second walk-up exhibit is hosted at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, located at 450 Mulberry Street in Memphis, Tenn.

What will I experience if I visit a walk-up exhibit?

The exhibits feature a touchscreen display, featuring over 150 firsthand accounts of the civil rights movement from activists, participants, community leaders and elected officials, as well as a series of 52 vignettes highlighting important milestones and events narrated by the late D’Army Bailey.

Who are some of the people in the video interviews?

Interviews include participants as well as key figures of the civil rights movement, including U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, the Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, the Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles, the Rev. C.T. Vivian and many more.

What are some of the events covered in the 52 historical vignettes?

Milestone events include the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four black girls in Alabama; the 1958 Little Rock, Ark., school closings that occurred due to the threat of integration; Booker T. Washington holding the first classes at the Tuskegee Institute; and the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi.

Who was D’Army Bailey?

The late D’Army Bailey was a circuit court judge, civil rights activist, author and film actor born in Memphis, Tenn. He also served on the City Council in Berkeley, Calif., from 1971 through 1973. Bailey founded the National Civil Rights Museum, which opened in 1991 at Memphis’ Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was slain in 1968. Bailey’s 1993 book, “Mine Eyes Have Seen: Dr. Martin Luther King’s Final Journey,” focused on that period. A later book, “The Education of a Black Radical” recalled Bailey’s own history in the civil rights movement.

Do you provide accompanying educational materials?

Yes. A free e-book about the history of the civil rights movement is available to read on this website. An enhanced version is also available as a free download from this website as well as on Amazon, Apple iTunes and BarnesAndNoble.com.

How long does a visit usually take?

Average video times are five minutes. Time spent visiting the exhibit depends on the amount of videos you and your party would like to see. We encourage everyone to explore as many as possible.

Why is the exhibit housed at the Newseum?

Comcast is a longtime supporter of the Newseum, which strives to preserve and present to the public important voices in American history. The legacy of the civil rights movement shows that through steadfast, peaceful exercise of the freedoms granted by the First Amendment, change is possible.

What is the Newseum?

The Newseum is a public museum that champions the five freedoms of the First Amendment through exhibits, public programs and education. One of the top attractions in Washington, D.C., the dynamic, engaging and interactive museum allows visitors to experience the stories of yesterday and today through the eyes of the media. The Newseum Institute serves as a forum for First Amendment study, exploration and education. For more information, visit newseum.org, or follow the museum on Facebook and Twitter.

Why is the exhibit housed at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel?

Founded by the late D’Army Bailey, the National Civil Rights Museum is an internationally acclaimed institution that shares the culture and lessons from the civil rights movement and explores how the era continues to shape equality and freedom globally. It is the perfect place to house the “Voices of the Civil Rights Movement” exhibit, as over 5 million visitors from around the world have visited since the museum opened in 1991, including more than 60,000 students annually. USA Today has recognized the museum as one of the country’s “Top 10 Most Iconic Attractions” and “Top 10 American Treasures,” giving the “Voices of the Civil Rights Movement” exhibit unparalleled exposure.

What is the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel?

The National Civil Rights Museum is the only museum of its kind in the country that gives a comprehensive overview of the American Civil Rights Movement from 1619 to the present. Located at the historic Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, the museum is intended to bring the civil rights movement to life, place events in a historical perspective and provide a focus of national remembrance. The NCRM is recognized around the world as a center for civil rights and social change. It offers visitors a chance to walk through history and learn more about a tumultuous and inspiring period of change through interactive exhibits, historic collections, storytelling, dynamic speakers and events.

Who should experience a “Voices of the Civil Rights Movement” exhibit?

Anyone interested in learning about the struggles of those who lived through the civil rights movement, along with the key events that inspired the fight for equality, should visit. Adults of all ages and children age 10 and over will find the material fascinating and informative. We hope these exhibits will foster and promote meaningful interaction and dialogue between teachers and students, parents and children, elected officials and the general public.

Is it appropriate for children?

The exhibit is most effective for visitors ages 10 and up. But, parents, guardians and educators could preview the kiosk to determine whether the exhibit is right for individual children. Certainly the ideas contained in the narratives are socially and politically important, historically accurate, and meant for any open-minded person.

Is there a cost to see the exhibit?

“Voices of the Civil Rights Movement” can be viewed at no cost online. The museum exhibits are available to museum goers at no additional charge over admission.

Can I learn just as much by reading about these events in textbooks?

While textbooks explain many of the concepts and events of the civil rights era, the “Voices of the Civil Rights Movement” exhibit allows you to experience this period through the eyes of those who were actually there. The videos give you firsthand accounts that textbooks and television programming can only roughly sketch.

How does the “Voices of the Civil Rights Movement” website differ from the walk-up exhibits?

In addition to videos, the website offers the opportunity for visitors to share their own stories with the click of a button. These user-generated stories are available to be viewed on the website. You are invited to share anything—comments, reminiscences, insights or inspirations. By going to the “Add Your Story” page, you can submit a written story, photographs or video. You can also read a copy of the free e-book or download a free, enhanced version and view a list of related organizations for further outreach and research.

Is the website and exhibit a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.?

Though the exhibit pays tribute and homage to King’s legacy, it is devoted to the tens of thousands of people who were a part of the entire American civil rights movement. Visitors will get to hear over 130 different voices from those who worked toward racial equality.

How can I help promote the exhibit and website?

Comcast NBCUniversal and its partners, the Equal Justice Initiative and Newseum, encourage a grassroots effort to promote “Voices of the Civil Rights Movement.” We would appreciate any support you can offer. This could include linking to the website on social media, blogging about the exhibit and spreading the word at schools and campuses across the country.

What’s in the e-book?

Written by acclaimed journalist and historian Terry Golway, the award-winning e-book paints a gripping overview of the racism, prejudices and politics that led up to the March on Washington and the social changes of the 1960s. It was produced by Comcast NBCUniversal and contains more than 30 interactive video interviews with key figures of the Civil Rights Movement such as Jesse Jackson, Ambassador Andrew Young, Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, and Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles, along with others who attended the march in person, watched it on television or were too young to participate, but were affected by its legacy nonetheless. It contains an introduction by Lester Holt of NBC News and has won the 2014 QED Seal of Approval, a 2014 Kirkus Starred Review, a Gold Benjamin Franklin Digital Award and eLit Awards Gold and Bronze Medals.

Where can I download the e-book?

You can read the e-book on this website or download an enhanced version containing 30 interactive videos and more than 70 news photographs and images of archived memorabilia, along with informative bonus features.