BIRMINGHAM, AL - Garnet's words have found their way into the title—and the essence—of the inaugural exhibition of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. Presented by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, "Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits" opens at Birmingham Civil Rights Institute August 28, 2010 and will be on view until November 21, 2010. The exhibition consists of 69 modern prints made from the National Portrait Gallery's collections highlighting 150 years of African American resistance in the U.S.
"Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, almost all of black America embraced Garnet's plea to 'let your motto be resistance,' based on 'the circumstances that surround you,'" said Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. "As we examined the photographs that comprise this exhibition, it was clear that they revealed, reflected and illuminated the variety of creative and courageous ways that African Americans resisted, accommodated, redefined and struggled in an America that needed, but rarely embraced and accepted its black citizens."
In the context of the photographs, resistance took many forms. Working with a growing circle of African American intellectuals and professionals, photographers often challenged the prevailing view of blacks as intellectually and socially inferior.
"Let Your Motto Be Resistance" was organized by the National Museum of African American History and Culture in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery and the International Center of Photography in New York and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.