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"Changing America" Exhibit and Programs Offer Opportunities to Discuss Civil Rights and Race Relations

The Radical Republicans. Black Codes. Abraham Lincoln. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “We March. We Demand.” All of these are linked in a larger story of liberty and the American experience – one that affects us even today. The story comes together in a national traveling exhibit opening Saturday and continues through Aug. 22 at the Library Center.

The exhibit “Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963," is the cornerstone of a six-week series of lectures, documentaries and book discussions across Springfield.

It begins with an opening ceremony from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, July 12, in the Library Center auditorium. All ages are invited to hear H. Wes Pratt, director of Equity & Compliance at Missouri State University, talk about how those historic events influenced his life and Springfield; hear the band Geezer play songs that affected social change in the United States; and learn how the Greater Springfield Race & Faith Collaborative continues its focus on race and race relations.

One series highlight is the July 31 talk at Central High School by Linda and Cheryl Brown, whose father Oliver Brown helped challenge racial segregation in Topeka, Kan., public schools and was forever tied to the landmark, 1954 U. S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education. It is open to the public and all ages are welcome.

A detailed schedule of all the series events is at thelibrary.org/changingamerica, and in the Bookends calendar of events at every library branch.

The series is sponsored by the Library and the Greater Springfield Race and Faith Collaborative, and caps the collaborative’s yearlong focus on race relations. The programs are funded by the Friends of the Library and The Library Foundation. The grant-funded exhibit is presented by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History in collaboration with the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The tour of the exhibition is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.

Kathleen O’Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at kathleeno@thelibrary.org.

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