Arts Post
Posted at 06:30 PM ET, 02/21/2012

Smithsonian links Civil Rights movement, American art on new Web site

Admirers of Romare Bearden might had forgotten — and I certainly had — that the great artist first created his collage “Roots” as a cover for TV Guide.

That is the kind of art fact included in a lively and instructional Web site created by the Smithsonian Institution.
Smithsonian Web site “Oh Freedom’’ includes “School’s Out” by Allan Rohan Crite. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture are the principal creators of a new guide about the 20th Century Civil Rights movement and American art.

“Oh Freedom! Teaching African American Civil Rights through American Art at the Smithsonian” is a project aimed at teachers of middle and high school students. But anybody can tap into it to learn or refresh.

The title is taken from a powerful song sung during the Civil Rights era, and the version above is by Joan Baez.

The site features more than three dozen artworks, from photographers James VanDerZee, Gordon Parks, Roland Freeman and Robert McNeill to painters Henry Ossawa Tanner, Jacob Lawrence, Andy Warhol, Sam Gilliam and Shepard Fairey.

The lesson plans are not only for classroom work, but can start a conversation anywhere. Bearden created “Roots” as a TV Guide cover to promote the miniseries based on Alex Haley’s best-seller “Roots.”

The Web site is

By  |  06:30 PM ET, 02/21/2012

Tags:  Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Romare Bearden, Civil Rights Movement, American art

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