Photography of Robert Houston Captures King's Most Daring Dream
PRINCESS ANNE, MD - In cooperation with the James E. Lewis Museum of Art at Morgan State University, the Mosely Gallery will be home to the traveling exhibition "Most Daring Dream: The Photography of Robert Houston & the 1968 Poor People's Campaign until Friday, March 27.
The exhibit features more than fifty images of what some scholars see as Martin Luther King's final and most ambitious vision, the 1968 Poor People's March in Washington, D.C. Although King was instrumental in planning the protest, he was assassinated weeks before the event. The campaign continued, however, and was led by Ralph Abernathy, Andrew Young and Jesse Jackson. The Poor People's March not only marked an important transition in the Civil Rights Movement, it helped to shape contemporary American history.
While covering King and the Civil Rights Movement for Black Star and Life Magazine, Houston arrived in the nation's capital to photograph the march. With his camera and artistic instinct, he portrayed the vision of a people through the specificity of singular humanities and created portraits that differ from most images of protest and struggle. Houston revealed the strength in individual dignity and found nobility in places where it was assumed not to exist. As Gordon Parks, his mentor, once wrote, Houston's "camera is guided by his heart."
This year marks 40 years since the Poor People's March in Washington and King's death in Memphis. To honor King's legacy, Houston's images will travel to sites across the state over the next two years, with plans for subsequent tours to museums and universities across the country. Through educational programming and public forums, the exhibit will combine panel discussions on art and history with civic discourse on civil rights and economic justice.
In his annual address delivered at the 11th convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King advised, "to answer the question 'where do we go from here?,' we must first honestly recognize where we are now." As Americans still face some of the challenges that King confronted before his death, Houston poses a similar challenge, but would add to recognize where we are now, we must ask how far have we come?
Robert Houston is a native of Maryland, who still lives in the East Baltimore home in which he was born. It is fitting that the exhibition is sponsored in part by the Maryland Humanities Council and its special initiative "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Remembrance and Reconciliation," which is a grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The museum is pleased to work with the council to present Robert Houston, a Maryland treasure, and his images of an important chapter in our nation's history.
The Mosely Gallery is free and open to the public, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. For more information, call the gallery at 410-651-7770, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting www.umes.edu/mosely.
Gail Stephens, assistant director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-651-7580, email@example.com.
After a thorough look into Robert Houston's collection of photographs one should understand what his camera means to him. Quite simply, it is an instrument to convey what he likes, or dislikes, about the world that surrounds him. And that camera is guided by his heart. His eye serves only as a conduit through which he captures what he means for us to see. Multitudes of significant moments grace the pages that stare at us from between the covers of his book. From its very beginning one realizes that the author has had conversations with God. The powerful photographs and soothing words express that most vividly. A few pages further one finds him immersed in the problems of poverty and humanity. People of all colors who suffer those problems come and go, and at times they tend to disappear. But whatever their destination happens to be, Houston's camera seems to be there waiting ready to take another look.
Written from an unpublished manuscript for Robert Houston