With only a few exceptions, the dominant figures typically highlighted in the American Civil Rights Movement are men. But an exhibit continuing on view through Jan. 8 at the Museum of Tolerance, features another side of the marches, demonstrations and sit-ins.
Freedom’s Sisters, a multimedia exhibit developed out of a collaboration between the Cincinnati Museum Center and Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services and supported by grants from the Ford Foundation, celebrates 20 women of note in America.
From historic 19th-century women like Frances Watkins Harper and Ida B. Wells-Barnett to contemporary figures such as Myrlie Evers-Williams and Sonia Sanchez, this traveling exhibit tells of the sacrifices these individuals made for the betterment of the Black community.
Organized around four themes–“Dare to Dream,” “Inspire Lives” “Serve the Public” and “Look to the Future”–Freedom’s Sisters is designed especially as an educational tool targeting students. Historical simulations and interactive displays are being set up to drive home messages and meanings central to each woman’s life.
In addition to the national figures, a number of Southern Californians have been chosen as local Freedom’s Sisters, including Crenshaw High teacher Daphne Bradford, who said her meeting with pioneer civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks inspired her to begin working to close the digital divide between the old and young in her community.
Actress and social activist Denise Nicholas (“Room 222” and “Heat of the Night”), and Avis Ridley-Thomas–who served as the director of the Dispute Resolution Program in the office of the Los Angeles City attorney since its inception in 1989–are also among the 43 local Freedom’s Sisters who will be honored (including 20 previous local women.)
The museum will feature a variety of programming in conjunction with the exhibition, including lectures and an essay contest open to students in fourth through eighth grades.
In 250 to 500 words, young people must answer the question: “Who is your favorite Freedom Sister and why, and what are you doing to continue her legacy?”
The deadline to submit an entry is Nov. 21, and winners will be notified by Dec. 16. Prizes include a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond for first place, $2,500 for second place and $1,000 for third place. Three runner-ups will also receive one $500 bond each.
Submit entries to: Ford Motor Co., Attn: Freedom’s Sisters Essay Contest-Los Angeles, 1 American Road, 211 WHQ, Dearborn, MI 48126.
The museum is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors 62 and older, and $11 for students with identification and youth. Children under age 5 are free.
The Museum of Tolerance is located at 9786 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 553-8403. Visit the website www.museumoftolerance.com for additional programming information.