Civil Rights Movement Art #BlackLivesMatter

Civil Rights Movement Art #BlackLivesMatter

“One of the most extraordinary and least understood aspects of Dr. Martin Luther King’s leadership was his incisive understanding of the power of visual images to alter public opinion,” says Maurice Berger, standing in front of an oversize silk-screen portrait of the slain civil rights leader. from Smithsonian Magazine

In celebration of Martin Luther King, Junior Day, I’ve collected images from museum that I’ve been to of Civil Rights Movement art. What and how can art shape the Civil Rights Movement? I think you will agree that the powerful images convey a truth that resonates with viewers and packs an emotional punch that might bring a bystander into a fight for justice. Imagery can be powerful stuff.

Questions to ask kids:

  • What is your first reaction to image you see?
  • What is happening?
  • What elements seem real?
  • What do you think the artist is trying to convey?
  • What emotions are you feeling when you view the art work?
  • Do you emotions change the longer you look at it?
  • Why do you think the artist created this piece?

More questions to ask kids from Art Curator for Kids. Art Curator for Kids also has more Civil Rights Art here and here.

What do you think? What images do you like best from this collection? Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

p.s. I have some posts on books for Civil Rights Movement for kids here:

Civil Rights Movement  and MLK Books for 4th Grade

Top 10: Best Children’s Books on Civil Rights

(Meeting Ruby Bridges) Civil Rights Picture Book of the Day

The Problem We All Live With, Ruby Bridges in Norman Rockwell painting

The Problem We All Live With by Norman Rockwell, image from Norman Rockwell Museum

From Rhode Island School of Design Museum

Civil Rights photography by Danny Lyon

Civil Rights photography by Danny Lyon

Robert Pruitt African American Political Art

Robert Pruitt African American Political Art


From Boston Museum of Fine Art

Martin Luther King Junior art at Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Martin Luther King Junior art at Boston Museum of Fine Arts

segregation in the south
segregation in the south

Gordon Parks

National Gallery of Canada

Civil Rights Movement Art

Interested in learning more about Civil Rights Movement Art? I found these interesting links:

Smithsonian Oh Freedom! Art Exhibit

These Are The Artists of the Civil Rights Movement, Huffington Post

Black Arts Movement, Wikipedia

Civil Rights Movement Art #BlackLivesMatter

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Thanks, Mia!!

    I know you love the Fannie Lou Hamer book, but are you familiar with Carol Boston Weatherford’s book on the photographer, Gordon Parks? It’s also wonderful, so be sure to read it if you haven’t already done so.

  2. The perfect post for today! I enjoyed reading about each piece. I like each one for a different reason — they each tell such a powerful story.
    Patricia Tilton recently posted…Minna’s Patchwork CoatMy Profile

  3. Rebecca

    Thanks so much for highlighting the struggles that went on in our history today as we celebrate Martin Luther King day. Nothing comes without a cost and this part of our past has some real sacrifices. Blessings.
    Rebecca recently posted…InsanityMy Profile

  4. Very moving art. Great post for this day.
    maryanne recently posted…Beginner Crochet Project: Make a DishclothMy Profile

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