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For All the World to See

Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights

Virtual/Interactive Exhibit

We are so excited to bring you the NEH-sponsored exhibit For All the World To See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights. While we regret not having the chance to show you this exhibit in person, its relevance to society’s struggles today pressed us to find a new way to work around the limitations that COVID has brought us. We hope that this virtual tour (accessible in the sidebar) will be a meaningful way to explore the themes of visual culture, social justice, and America’s progress (and historical lack of it) in achieving Civil Rights.

While we have been tasked with changing how we bring and share information with you, our goal remains the same … to not only expose our community to new and enriching learning opportunities, but to affect positive change as a result of them. Toward that end, we have designed ten learning activities for various ages and learning styles. After viewing the exhibit, we hope you and your family will choose one that appeals to you. Use the materials and templates provided in your exhibit packet to create something meaningful that you can share with our community. To request your exhibit packet, email smith@ypsilibrary.org.

Our hope is to assemble an Ypsilanti “scrapbook” of your projects and writings that reflect a community dialogue around these themes and how we see them, see each other, and see a shared future. This scrapbook is intended to be on display online and in our buildings.

Need an incentive? Everyone who makes a submission will receive a free copy of Ralph Ellison’s classic book The Invisible Man. See the link in the sidebar on how to receive your copy.

We hope you enjoy the exhibit!

Tour the Virtual Exhibit

Earn a free book!
Submit to win!

Submit an entry for any of the activities below, to receive a free copy of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man for pick-up via curbside. Just use the submission forms on each activity page to send us your work, then email Julie (smith@ypsilibrary.org) to set up a time to pick up the book.

About the book

Originally published in 1952 as the first novel by a then unknown author, Invisible Man remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century.

The book’s nameless narrator describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of “the Brotherhood”, before retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. In the end, the Invisible Man states that he is ready to return to the world because he has spent enough time hiding from it. He explains that he has told his story in order to help people see past his own invisibility, and also to provide a voice for people with a similar plight: “Who knows but that on the lower frequencies, ‘I speak for you?’”.

Exhibit Sponsors

Mid America Arts Alliance

This exhibition was made possible by NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights is adapted from the exhibition organized by the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County in partnership with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. The exhibition was curated by Dr. Maurice Berger, Research Professor and Chief Curator for the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture. The exhibition was funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Trellis Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, St. Paul Travelers Corporation, Community Foundation of Texas, and Maryland State Arts Council. Additional support came from the CBS News Archives, Ed Sullivan/SOFA Entertainment, Sullmark Corporation, and Sony Pictures Entertainment. It was adapted and toured for NEH on the Road by Mid-America Arts Alliance.