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Library Explores America's Change Makers

The new exhibition, "Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote" will open June 4, 2019 at the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress will launch a yearlong initiative in 2019 inviting visitors to Explore America’s Change Makers with a series of exhibitions, events and programs. Major exhibitions drawing from the Library’s collections will be focused on important figures in women’s history and the fight for suffrage, Rosa Parks’ groundbreaking role in the civil rights movement and artists’ responses to major issues of the day.

Additional events will Explore America’s Change Makers through music, films, performances and public programs throughout the year.

The 2019 initiative is being announced on the 101st anniversary of the day when the U.S. House of Representatives first passed a constitutional amendment for women’s suffrage on Jan. 10, 1918 – a victory that Rep. Jeannette Rankin, the first woman to serve in Congress, helped achieve. The Senate would pass the measure in 1919 to send the amendment to the states for ratification. The story of the lengthy movement for women’s suffrage will be told in the Library’s centerpiece exhibition.

Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote June 4, 2019 – September 2020

The new exhibition, “Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote,” will tell the story of the long campaign for women’s suffrage – considered the largest reform movement in American history – which lasted more than seven decades. The struggle was not for the fainthearted. For years, determined women organized, lobbied, paraded, petitioned, lectured, picketed and faced imprisonment.

The exhibition draws from the Library’s extensive collections of personal papers and organizational records of such figures as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Church Terrell, Carrie Chapman Catt, the National Woman’s Party, the National American Woman Suffrage Association and others. Documents, images, video and audio recordings will trace the movement leading to the women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, the contributions of suffragists who worked to persuade women that they deserved the same rights as men, the divergent political strategies and internal divisions they overcame, the push for a federal women’s suffrage amendment and the legacy of this movement.

“Shall Not Be Denied” is part of the national commemoration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, marking major milestones in 2019 and 2020. The exhibition will open on the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Senate’s passage of the suffrage amendment that would become the 19th amendment to the Constitution once ratification by the states was certified on Aug. 26, 1920.

The Library’s 2019 exhibitions also will include:

Art in Action: Herblock and Fellow Artists Respond to Their Times Jan. 31, 2019 – Aug. 17, 2019

A new exhibition, “Art in Action,” will explore the tradition of artists as social commentators. Drawings by renowned editorial cartoonist Herblock will be paired with historical and contemporary artists’ prints, drawings and posters that respond to major issues from the 17th century to the current day. As a political cartoonist for The Washington Post and other newspapers, Herbert L. Block, better known as Herblock, devoted his career to creating social commentary through art. Topics that drew his attention provide the exhibition’s framework, including civil rights, women’s rights, health, war, refugees and the role of media.

Herblock’s cartoons provide a call and response with other socially-engaged artists who expressed their opinions through art. The exhibition includes depictions of Pablo Picasso and works in the global tradition of political art by Jacques Callot, Francisco de Goya, and Leopoldo Méndez – as well as modern and contemporary American artists including Alexander Calder, Enrique Chagoya, Shepard Fairey, Kerry James Marshall, Juan Fuentes, Favianna Rodriguez and Helen Zughaib, among others.

Rosa Parks December 2019

Rosa Parks is best known for her refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a crowded bus in Montgomery, Alabama on Dec. 1, 1955. Her arrest sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a seminal event in the civil rights movement. But Parks is often characterized by misconceptions. Contrary to popular belief, she was not a demure seamstress. The real Rosa Parks was a seasoned activist. She would be punished for the famous bus incident with death threats, unemployment and poverty – but she remained committed to the struggle for social justice until her death in 2005 and inspired millions of people worldwide.

This will be the first major exhibition to showcase the Rosa Parks Collection, which came to the Library in 2014. The collection includes thousands of pages of Parks’ personal correspondence, letters from presidents, her writings from the time of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and about 2,500 photographs, as well as her Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States – and extensive materials from around the world – both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.

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