Maria Varela and the Civil Rights Movement

29 April – 18 May
Weekdays, 2pm – 6pm
Saturdays, 11am – 3pm *
The Kendrew Barn St John’s College


In 1963, Maria Varela travelled to Atlanta, Georgia to join the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee as an office worker.
Within three weeks she was assigned to work in dangerous Selma, Alabama as a literacy program worker. For the next four and a half years, Varela would work as an educator, organiser, and writer in the deep South. It was not until 1966 that, dissatisfied with representations of Black people in the Movement, Varela would pick up a camera. Through her lens, she captured images of marches, speeches, and protests; but, primarily, she captured the hard work that went into sustaining the everyday organizing to build the Movement from the bottom up – including voter drives, vegetable co operatives, and community activism around jobs, education, housing and segregation of public institutions.

From events such as the Meredith March Against Fear, to profiling leaders such as Fannie Lou Hamer, Varela’s photography offers an important perspective on one of the most significant periods of reckoning in American history.

* The exhibition will be launched with a wine reception on April 29 at 5pm.
Opening remarks will be at 6pm.
Maria Varela will be reflecting on narratives of the Civil Rights Movement and how her photographs and experiences challenge that memory, on Tuesday, 30 April at 5pm at the Rothermere American Institute.

Entrance is free
Booking essential for the launch and the talk


Apr 29 2024 - May 18 2024


5:00 pm

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Kendrew Barn
St John's College, Oxford OX1 2JP