Remembering Our History: Gallery 1199 Honored Civil Rights Activists

February 26, 2021

Charleston_fa.jpgThe Bread and Roses Gallery, also known as Gallery 1199, often served as a venue for the Union’s African American History Month programs. Just as the auditorium’s stage provided a platform for speakers and performing artists, the Gallery played a similar role for graphic artists and multi-media exhibits.

For the first Black History Month of this century, Gallery 1199 launched an interactive, multi-media exhibit honoring 16 civil right activists. The exhibit, entitled “The Long Walk to Freedom,” was co-sponsored by Community Works, an art program for young people.

The exhibit showed how ordinary people from different racial and economic backgrounds helped to propel the civil rights movement. Its purpose was to help provide a blueprint – particularly for youth – for future activism. Toward that end, the exhibit was used in the Community Works “Making a Difference” mentor program an in schools throughout the country. Civil rights activists honored included Robert Moses, Gloria Richardson, C. Virginia Fields and Wyatt Tee Walker.

The exhibit was part of a series of Bread and Roses programs designed to educate and inspire. Months earlier, “Sweatshop,” a student-generated exhibit, produced several thousand entries in a statewide poster contest sponsored by Bread and Roses, the NYS Teachers Union (NYSUT) and the Labor-Religion Coalition.

NYSUT toured the exhibit through 18 schools, in community centers, municipal offices and churches. Also, “40 Years of Progress,” an exhibit about the history of the Union which preceded “The Long Walk to Freedom,” was used by some 13 schools as background material for a future exhibit, “What Is a Union.”