Civil rights weekend kicks off with photograpy of Jim Wallace
The quiet gallery in Wilson Library slowly filled with chattering students and Chapel Hill residents Thursday night, all fixated on the black and white news photographs on display.
More than 70 people attended “Photographic Angles: News Photography in the North Carolina Collection”, which featured various local photojournalists’ works and a talk by photographer Jim Wallace. The lecture is also part of the University’s Hutchins lecture series.
The exhibition kicked off the first Civil Rights in Chapel Hill Celebration Weekend, which was organized by the Marian Cheek Jackson Center, which promotes the history of residents of Chapel Hill’s Northside neighborhood.
“There are lots of players involved, so we’re helping to connect them and publicize their efforts,” said Monica Palmeira, community actions coordinator for the Jackson Center.
Wallace is a UNC graduate who began his career as a photojournalist at The Daily Tar Heel in the early 1960s.
He remembers taking photographs inside the garage of the Orange County Jail and in police lines.
“Whether it was a sit-in or a march, the police wanted accurate pictures of what’s happening,” Wallace said.
“Chief Blake was determined that Chapel Hill was not going to become a Birmingham.”
Wallace said he was given unprecedented access to take photographs of a Ku Klux Klan rally.
“The only time that I’ve ever been frightened was from the rally,” he said.
“The Klan gave me complete access, but I believe to this day that when they asked for my name, they probably thought I was related to (former governor of Alabama) George Wallace,” he said with a laugh.
Charlotte Ruth, a Chapel Hill resident, said she has always been interested in photojournalism and the Hutchins Lectures.
“I have an interest in the progress on civil rights for years, as I grew up in the South,” said Ruth, who is also a photographer.
The Jackson Center has spearheaded the efforts to honor those who were involved in the civil rights movement through multimedia exhibits, panels and lectures such as the one Wallace gave.
“(Wallace’s) work represents to me what’s the best in photojournalism: capturing decisive and historic moments of society,” said Pat Davison, a journalism professor at UNC.
At the end of his lecture, Wallace gave a few words of advice to photojournalists: “Good photography is being at the right place and at the right moment.”
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