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'Black is beautiful': new exhibition features 'overlooked' civil rights-era art

Thursday, July 13, 2017 - 02:01

'Soul of a Nation', a new exhibition of U.S civil rights-era art, opens at the Tate Modern in London and is set to tour the U.S. next year. David Doyle reports.

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Born out of the American civil rights movement - with a message still relevant today. A new display at the UK's Tate Modern museum, set to head to the U.S. next year. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ARTIST AND FOUNDING MEMBER OF AFRICOBRA, WADSWORTH JARRELL, SAYING: "These were political figures, very prominent figures of the black revolution in the 1960s. Malcom X and the Black Panthers, Angela Davis and Martin Luther King. This is created with the letter B which represents black is beautiful." It was a time of struggle and pride and radical change in U.S. history, but the Tate Modern says crucial black art from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s has been overlooked. And artist Wadsworth Jarrell says the questions being asked by African Americans artists more than half a century ago are still relevant today. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ARTIST AND FOUNDING MEMBER OF AFRICOBRA, WADSWORTH JARRELL, SAYING: "Even more so now, because the things that we addressed did not came to fruition, the issues that we addressed did not come to fruition. So you still have the same problems, with the Trayvon Martin etc etc." The Ku Klux Klan marching in Virginia on recently - racial tensions of America's past have not disappeared altogether. In the five years it has taken to put this exhibition together there have been a number of high profile shootings of unarmed African-American men by U.S. police. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ARTIST AND FOUNDING MEMBER OF AFRICOBRA, WADSWORTH JARRELL, SAYING: "I feel that what we was talking about hasn't really changed the system, the governmental system in America. it's hard to change the system with art. But we are making people aware, people become aware of the things we addressed." America has also transitioned from its first African American president to Donald Trump. Earlier this year he accused Selma march leader John Lewis of being "all talk and no action", and his critics accuse him of trashing civil rights as he implements his "America First" agenda. One message to be taken, perhaps, from pieces like David Hammons' "Black First, America Second" - there's more progress yet to be achieved.

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'Black is beautiful': new exhibition features 'overlooked' civil rights-era art

Thursday, July 13, 2017 - 02:01