Songs of Resistance & Civil Rights

African American Civil Rights Spirit in Song

A new exhibit featuring songs from African American culture opened last week in the Art Annex of the Roland Dille Center for the Arts. The exhibit is free and open to the public, and continues through February 28.

The Songs of Resistance & Civil Rights exhibit commemorates the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination. The exhibit also celebrates the power of African American music sung during the 20th century crusades for justice and civil rights. Sung by African American congregations, protest organizations, activists and individual performers as they organized and marched for their human and civil rights, these songs embody the spirituality, resistance, inspiration, resilience and determination of the Movement.

Laurie Blunsom, chair of the School of Art and a faculty member in the School of Performing Arts; and Phyllis May-Machunda, a faculty member in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, curated the exhibit. The exhibit includes songs from African American musical genres, including slave spirituals, urban gospel, bebop jazz, labor movement songs, and even African American original compositions and popular music.

The exhibit addresses Southern segregation, violence, and the power of songs to mobilize communities for resistance against injustice. It presents and frames a selection of 20th century freedom songs within their historical and cultural contexts. A website accessed by QR codes (and a URL) provides accompanying visual and audio examples of these songs in performance.

The Roland Dille Center for the Arts is on the MSUM campus at 1104 7th Avenue South. The exhibit is open all day and in the evening until 8 p.m.

For more information, contact Laurie Blunsom at 218.477.4606 or