LBJ Presidential Library presents Documents and Art of the Civil Rights Movement
On what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 87th birthday, the LBJ Presidential Library will open two exhibits in its Great Hall that are particularly important as the nation remembers Dr. King’s birthday in January and Black History Month in February.
Lyndon Johnson’s Letter to Coretta Scott King
After Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson wrote a letter of condolence to his widow, Coretta Scott King. In the typed letter, dated April 5, 1968, Johnson writes, “We will overcome this calamity and continue the work of justice and love that is Martin Luther King’s legacy and trust to us.” Johnson wrote of his determination to find King’s killer.
According to the Washington Post, Mrs. King kept the letter until 2003, when she gave it to the singer, Harry Belafonte. In 2008, Belafonte considered auctioning the letter. The King family objected, the auction was canceled, and, later, Belafonte and the King family reached an agreement. In 2014, Belafonte gifted the letter to his half-sister, Shirley Cooks, who sold it at auction last year for $60,000 to a private collector. The letter from Johnson to Mrs. King will make its public museum debut at the LBJ Library. It was donated by a private collector to the Library’s permanent collection late last year.
The Continual Struggle by artist Brian Washington
The Continual Struggle is artist Brian Washington’s artwork documenting the Civil Rights movement and America’s historic struggle against segregation and other forms of race-based disenfranchisement. The exhibit uses visual art as an educational tool and method of storytelling, vividly illustrating people who were willing to put their lives on the line, to protest injustice and inequality. Carefully researched and drawn only in black and white, the 17 stark drawings portray sharecropping, non-violent protest, freedom rides, protest marches, voter registration campaigns, police violence, and the realities that provoked those actions – vividly demonstrating the conflict-ridden nature of social change.