(Atlanta) “With Drawn Arms: Glenn Kaino and Tommie Smith”

5 pictures captured while exploring “With Drawn Arms: Glenn Kaino and Tommie Smith” at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art.

The entire exhibition is housed in 4 rooms. Images 1-4 were photographed in the temporary exhibit room labeled the Tommie Smith Archives. Tommie Smith and wife Delois, are said to have amassed and archived thousands of artifacts related to his life and career. The High Museum currently has on display a selection of photographs, news clippings, awards, and other material culture.

The Tommie Smith Archives is dedicated to artifacts while the rest of the exhibit features the work of conceptual artist, Glenn Kaino. Each of Kaino’s designs are inspired by Tommie Smith, the living legend.

Image 1: commemorative item from 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

Image 2: Published letter written by Shirley Graham DuBois, addressed to Tommie Smith. Mrs. DuBois was the wife of W.E.B. DuBois. The letter was printed with her permission in a publication entitled The Black Panther.

Image 3: Track and Field equipment.

Image 4: Tommie Smith achieving a world record title during his time at San Jose State University.

Image 5: The Bridge a conceptual piece created by Glenn Kaino. The 100 foot serpentine bridge is comprised of gold painted casts of Tommie Smith’s arm. There is a great amount of symbolism in this piece including it representing a “path connected to the past that leads forward to the present.”

Atlanta Trip to St. Helena Island, South Carolina’s Penn Center

A few photographs from last weekend’s trip to St. Helena Island, South Carolina. The island has been home to the Penn Center (originally Penn School) since 1862. The Penn Center hosted their 36th Annual Heritage Days Celebration November 8 – November 11, 2018.

The 1954-1968 Civil Rights Movement, Abolitionism, U.S. Civil War, and Gullah-Geechee Heritage can all be examined through the lens of the Penn Center. Book title “Penn Center: A History Preserved” is a good way to learn about the history that has taken place at and around the cultural institution.

Field Notes: Geronimo Collins in New Orleans (coming soon)

A friend of The Merging Lanes Project, Geronimo Knows, is down in New Orleans. He’ll be sending us a few notes on the black historic sites he’s visited while there.

His field notes will be posted here and on instagram.com/TheMergingLanesProject

Opening in Nashville, Tennessee 2019 – National Music of African American Music

The National Museum of African American Music will open in Nashville Tennessee in 2019.

The museum is currently offering a series of lectures prior to opening the doors to their permanent home. A schedule can be found on their website nmaam.org

Unveiling of John Lewis Freedom Parkway and John Lewis Plaza Additions

Representative John Lewis pictured alongside (L-R) Atlanta City Council member Andre Dickens, Mayor Keisha Bottoms, media and others.
John Lewis Parkway Part I, before the unveiling.
John Lewis Parkway Part II, after the unveiling.
Atlanta Department of Public Works employees after placing their final touch on park grounds.
Clark Atlanta University Band Drum Major
Clark Atlanta University Band filing into John Lewis Freedom Plaza, site of the day’s ceremony.
Young children with caregivers as all await John Lewis’ scheduled 1 pm arrival.
Guidance on how to best use the latest addition, the John Lewis Ride to Freedom Play Space.
pictured is one of several civil rights regions featured along the Ride to Freedom Play Space. According to Monica Prothro additional signage will be installed before the end of the year. The signage will interpret civil rights history in various regions across the U.S.
“The Unveiling: John Lewis Freedom Parkway” program guide.

There were probably over a couple hundred people that came out to witness the definition of a significant moment in Atlanta history. The date, August 22nd 2018. Location, John Lewis Freedom Parkway and the corner of Ponce De Leon Ave NE. The occasion? Well, just a short time ago John Lewis Freedom Parkway was known as simply Freedom Parkway. But, in early December 2017 a resolution sponsored by Council member Andre Dickens, that called for a street name change from Freedom Parkway to John Lewis Freedom Parkway, was approved by Atlanta City Council. Following the approval, months of preparation went into changing the street name with a public, conspicuous display of admiration in Lewis’ honor. Also of note are changes in the process of being made to the existing John Lewis Plaza.

To start, imagine this —in comes one of the most notable Freedom Riders, John Lewis, on a MARTA bus designated for him, his family members, and other close supporters. With streets partially blocked, ushered in by a crew of public safety officers, the bus turns the corner… in it is Lewis and his selected bus passengers with their eyes locked on the crowd. From the MARTA bus windows they are getting their first glimpse of the amount of people that amassed to witness “the unveiling”.

Fast forward to Lewis exiting the bus. He was met by many who must have felt it was important to document that very moment in time. Whether it was a mobile phone or another digital recording device, more than not someone was working to capture an affecting image. Lewis worked his way from one end of the park to the other, surrounded by a crowd that could be described as a swarm (Note: I am curious to know if Representative Lewis felt any other way besides “in his element” while making his way alongside the crowd to the other end of the park). Just before reaching the main stage, accompanied by Councilmember Andre Dickens and Mayor Keisha Bottoms, Lewis was welcomed by the Clark Atlanta University (CAU) Band. The band performed a series of routines just as they did while the crowd awaited Lewis’ 1 pm arrival. Once the crowd settled, Dickens introduced the John Lewis Freedom Parkway task force members, other dignitaries, Mayor Keisha Bottoms, and finally John Lewis. Dickens shared that there was a connection between John Lewis and Freedom Parkway due to Lewis’ career long commitment to civil rights. Dickens shared that Freedom Parkway and Ponce De Leon Ave were the selected cross streets not just because of the original street name but also because the section remains the only highway in Atlanta that is solely a green space, void of business infrastructure.

Additionally, new features added to the already existing John Lewis Plaza, were unveiled. With the support of KaBoom, a children’s health awareness organization, the city was able to make upgrades to the park area. These changes were inspired by Lewis’ career in Civil Rights and public service, as well as his graphic novels, the Mark trilogy. Monica Prothro, Art Program Manager with the City of Atlanta shared that the Freedom Play Space is nearing completion. Additional interpretive signage and a bus honoring the Freedom Riders will be installed before year’s end.

John Lewis Freedom Parkway and additions to John Lewis Plaza are just two public spaces in Atlanta, named in honor of Representative John Lewis. During his speech, Lewis shared that he is personally championing a day when the human race can achieve solidarity. It is likely Lewis’ career long track record of working to fulfill such an ideal that has resulted in the City of Atlanta commitment to honoring his name and legacy. If you are interested in visiting a public space in Atlanta to connect with American, African American, and Civil Rights history know that John Lewis Plaza located at the corner of the newly renamed John Lewis Freedom Parkway and Ponce De Leon Northeast, is a good place to do so.