John Lewis

Social work professor Yolanda Padilla’s UGS class ‘How To Change the World’ tours the March to Freedom exhibit at the Lyndon Baynes Johnson Presidential Library on Tuesday afternoon.
Photo Credit: Jack DuFon | Daily Texan Staff

An exhibit honoring the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, one of America’s most pivotal civil rights events, is now on display at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. 

The first half of the exhibit, “March to Freedom,” features photos, documents and videos from the Selma-to-Montgomery marches that occurred from March 7–25, 1965. The marches, which civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis led, were vital to the national support of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that ultimately led to its passage. 

The second half of the exhibit displays photos from the 2014 Civil Rights Summit in Austin, which took place at the LBJ Library. President Barack Obama and Lewis, who is now a U.S. representative from Georgia, both attended the Civil Rights Summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Don Carleton — the executive director of the Briscoe Center for American History, which houses many of the photos that were selected for the exhibit — said it was symbolic to show photos from both the 1965 marches and the Civil Rights Summit. 

“There’s beautiful symmetry in having a photo [at the exhibit] of John Lewis, who was beaten in those marches, hugging President Obama 50 years later,” Carleton said. “[The University] has been in the business of promoting African-American history and documenting it for a long time.” 

The exhibit has a powerful message that should reach American generations both past and present, according to Ben Wright, public affairs officer for the Briscoe Center. 

“The photos, images and documents are a reminder to us all about the triumphs and tragedy of the 1960s and of the civil rights movement,” said Wright. “There was horrendous brutality and intimidation, and, yet, there is also encouragement, hope and progress. We see those together in the exhibit.”

Displays such as “March to Freedom” create a more inclusive university environment for underrepresented minority students, said Khady Diack, a human development and family sciences junior and member of UT’s Afrikan Americans Affairs organization.

“I feel like, [at UT], I am very unrepresented since African-Americans are less than 5 percent of the total University population,” Diack said. “To have a bit of our history displayed and represented is very important.”

Diack said she believes UT could do more to represent African-Americans.

“I want the University to do more things like this because one of the reasons more African-Americans don’t come here is because they feel like it’s an underrepresented community,” Diack said.

The exhibit will be on display until April 12.

 

Photo Credit: Albert Lee | Daily Texan Staff

Christopher Nolan, the director of “Inception” and “The Dark Knight” trilogy is a vocal advocate for shooting movies on celluloid film, which has been the traditional method used to make movies since the creation of motion pictures. His choice to release his latest film “Interstellar,” a science fiction epic, on celluloid rather than screening it through a digital projector has fed the heated debate about which format is the best to shoot movies.

John Lewis, the theater operating manager at the Bullock Texas State History Museum, said that the museum will host the screening, especially since the museum will be changing its IMAX film projector to a digital projector in January.

“We strive to make sure any presentation of a Hollywood screening is shown at the best quality,” Lewis said. “We have held off on replacing the film projector for this event. We’re proud to be showing it on film.”

Lewis said that while film possesses better quality than digital, it is more expensive to produce and appears to be losing favor in the industry. Nevertheless, he thinks that by presenting “Interstellar” on film, Nolan is trying to send a message that filmmakers should still use the medium.

“Film shows the best picture when the projector is maintained by a skilled professional,” Lewis said. “But I think the industry prefers digital because it’s cost-effective. I also understand that the main moviegoing public doesn’t have the untrained eye to see the difference, but, as an IMAX manager, I want to present a film in the highest quality possible.”

Richard Dahms, general manager of Galaxy Theatres Highland, believes that films such as “Interstellar” deserve to be shown the way the filmmakers envisioned, even if it leaves theaters that have dismissed their film projectors at a disadvantage.

“If this is the way the director wants [the film] to be seen, I’ll be happy to show it in the way it was meant to be seen,” Dahms said. “It’s up to the theaters to present the movie the way it was meant to be shown from the director’s vision.”

However, radio-television-film professor Thomas Schatz disagrees with the notion that theaters should be forced to use film when more advanced formats are available, even though it goes against the sensibilities of directors who are loyal to celluloid. He said that the use of actual film to screen motion pictures will eventually become an obsolete process.

“Practicality-wise, it’s ridiculous,” Schatz said. “It’s easier to convert a digital file onto the screen. The celluloid image is superior in some ways, but celluloid is toast. It’s over. We’re getting to a point where digital is advancing to where it’s nearly indistinguishable from film to most people.”

Schatz said that movie theater attendance is dipping lower and lower, and that, while some filmmakers may use film as a means to achieve perfection
in their movies, it may not even matter due to decreased attendance rates and the need for theaters to adapt to digital equipment to shave costs.

As the release date draws closer, Paramount Pictures is preparing for the debut by holding several special advanced screenings on Nov. 5 at various venues in Austin. The film will also be screened digitally starting Nov. 7, which is the movie’s official release date.

Civil Rights Summit

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

On May 4, 1961, a few months before President Barack Obama was born, John Lewis and the rest of Freedom Riders were prepared to die as they rode public buses through the deep South to protest segregation.

“Some of us signed notes and wills that, if it took our death — as Dr. King said — to redeem the soul of America, I think that some of us were prepared,” Lewis, who is now a Democratic U.S. representative from Georgia, said at a Civil Rights Summit panel on Wednesday. “I thought I was going to die on that bridge [during the march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., in 1965]. I thought I saw death, but I was not afraid.”

Lewis, former NAACP chairman Julian Bond and Andrew Young, former U.S. congressman and U.N. ambassador, reminisced about their experiences in the movement and discussed issues not often addressed in the movement’s history, including the gender discrimination that persisted within civil rights groups.

Bond said even though the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee had more gender equality than other civil rights organizations, there was still conflict between men and women.

“There were enormous tensions over the role each would play,” Bond said. “Had it not been for women, there would not have been a movement.”

Young said despite women playing a key role in advancing the movement, gender discrimination persisted.

“The sin of the movement to me was that [civil rights and women’s rights activist] Dorothy Height didn’t get to speak at the March on Washington,” Young said.

Lewis said people who participated in sit-ins and marches were often predominantly women, and he thinks male chauvinism was a contributing factor.

“There were men who said they couldn’t be nonviolent,” Lewis said. “You can be nonviolent. You can stand in line and keep the peace.”

Bond said he avoided taking an official position on same-sex marriage while he was NAACP chairman because he did not think the organization would support it.

“One day after I was not chairman anymore … somebody sat down there and said, ‘I move that we support same-sex marriage,’” Bond said. “I’m thinking no, no, no, this is not the time.”

Bond, who said he personally supports same-sex marriage, said he was surprised when 60 out of 64 NAACP board members voted to support same-sex marriage in 2012.

Lewis said there is still a lot of work to do, and encouraged younger generations to increase their civic and political participation to advance civil rights, especially regarding immigration policy. 

“We need to set people on the path to citizenship,” Lewis said. “I don’t accept this idea that individuals are illegal. There’s no such thing as an illegal human being.”

Young said younger generations play a key role in creating a truly multicultural and multiracial democratic society.

“We’ve got to mobilize and organize,” Young said. “There are still forces in America that want to make it harder for people to participate.”

News Briefly

The LBJ Foundation awarded the first LBJ Liberty and Justice for All awarded to Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights leader who worked with President Lyndon B. Johnson to pass major civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s. “One of the key pieces of legislation that President Johnson hoped to pass was the Voting Rights Act,” said Anne Wheeler, a spokeswoman for the foundation. “John Lewis and other members of the legislature worked with the president to get it passed. It’s one of the most important pieces of the civil rights movement.” Lewis attended a ceremony in Washington, D.C., where Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Ron Kirk, the former Dallas mayor and current U.S. trade representative gave him the award. “John Lewis is a pioneer,” Wheeler said. “He showed great bravery for the advancement of civil rights and the result of that effort on his part was something very close to President Johnson.”