National Institute on Aging

Virginia Commonwealth University Unveils Exhibit of Civil Rights Era Photographs

Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond is now showing an exhibit of 277 photographs, entitled the Freedom Now Project. The photographs were taken in downtown Farmville, Virginia, in the summer of 1963 during the height of the civil rights movement. The African American community was protesting racial discrimination by local businesses and the closing of the public school system rather than complying with the desegregation order of Brown v. Board of Education.


The effort was launched with the hope that the public would help identify the people in the photographs so as to better understand their participation in the protest movement. The pictures were shot by a photographer for the Farmville Police Department. The police planned to use the photographs for evidence in case arrests were made.

Alice Campbell, an archivist at the Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries, stated, “The photographs in the Freedom Now Project make a significant contribution to our understanding of a very important event in the history of Virginia and the nation. By sharing them on Flickr, we hope to reach a broad audience – which could be anyone from primary school students to researchers, citizens of Farmville, the commonwealth of Virginia, or anywhere in the world. We hope that, by opening the collection up to comments, we can learn more about the people and events depicted, thereby increasing the collection’s value for future research, and preserving a record of Americans whose persistence and bravery helped move the nation closer to the promise of justice for all.”

All of the photos in the project may be viewed here.


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