Resistance through my lens with Maria Varela

Educator, organiser and activist Maria Varela explores her work during the Civil Rights Movement, focusing particularly on her photographic archive. In discussing her images, Maria reflects on narratives of the Civil Rights Movement and how her photographs and experiences challenge that memory.

This talk is part of the event programming for the exhibition, Time to Get Ready: Maria Varela and the Civil Rights Movement.

In 1963, Maria Varela travelled to Atlanta, Georgia to join the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee as an office worker. However, 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.


Apr 30 2024


5:00 pm

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Rothermere American Institute
1a South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3UB