On Sept. 23, the Southern Utah Museum of Art hosted “Lunch and Learn,” an event where “Thurgood” actor Derek Livingston and SUMA’s assistant director Dr. Rebecca Bloom collaborated to explain their civil rights-focused events.
Attendees of the event brought their own lunches to eat while Livingston shared behind-the-scenes information about playing Thurgood Marshall in the one-man play at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Then, Bloom offered a tour of the exhibit “I’m Walkin’ For My Freedom,” a gallery of photographs from the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
During the event, visitors were not only encouraged to ask questions and get to know Livingston and Bloom, but they also eagerly shared their own experiences with the topics discussed, reflecting on how society has changed and grown.
“Thurgood” by George Stevens Jr. details the life of the first African American Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall. He claims that by showing Thurgood’s development throughout his life and using humor, he keeps the audience engaged so he can spread the play’s message of equal justice for all.
Livingston has a special connection to the fight for civil rights already, having participated in the Million Man March in 1995. He said that he is particularly proud to spread awareness of the contributions of Marshall to the people of Utah.
In the play, Livingston uses theatre to depict the history of civil rights. Bloom wants to explore similar topics, but instead of using USF’s method, SUMA highlights the past using art and photography.
The exhibition at SUMA primarily featured work by Matt Herron, a photojournalist who risked his life and career to capture the essence of the civil rights movement in his photos.
“[The gallery] gives us a deeper appreciation of not just the organizers and leaders but also all the average people who put their bodies and livelihoods on the line to fight for their constitutionally guaranteed rights,” Bloom said.
The collection of photographs left SUMA on Sept. 24 to travel back to the Center for Documentary Expression and Art in Salt Lake City, where it is regularly housed. However, for Bloom, the representation of activist art doesn’t stop there. She intends to continue displaying various works of art without shying away from heavy social issues.
While Bloom thinks it is important to contemplate these events of the past, she also expressed her concern for the future, arguing that there are still strides to be made to combat injustices all over the world.
“There’s still work to be done,” said Bloom. “The past is prologue, but it also permeates the present, and I think it’s important to acknowledge and truly understand that before we can progress forward as a society.”
Article by: Kale Nelson
Photos courtesy of SUMA