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The Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History (DMFAH) would like to announce the Camilla Williams Exhibition, made possible through a generous Make More Happen grant from the Danville Regional Foundation. The Camilla Williams exhibition highlights the relationship this New York City Opera diva had with her hometown, Danville, and explores the difficult path to frame in a racially divided South during the Civil Rights protests.
The Danville civil rights demonstrations began peacefully late in May 1963 when local civil rights leaders organized demonstrations, sit-ins, and marches to protest segregation in all spheres, but especially in municipal government, employment, and public facilities. As protests accelerated, however, white authorities responded early in June with tough legal stratagems and violence, attacking demonstrators with clubs and fire hoses. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) all sent state and national leaders to Danville to assist the African American protesters, but to little avail. The legal resistance displayed by authorities—injunctions, ordinances, and court procedures condemned by the U.S. Justice Department—proved so effective and unyielding that protests were stymied, resulting in few immediate gains for African Americans.
February 1, 2022: Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History is announced as a designated National Civil Rights Site.
We thank Sherman Saunders, Tommy Bennett, and Gayle Breakley for being our speakers for this event. We also thank Torrey Dixon, Tommy Bennett, Willie Fitzgerald, Reverent Lawrence G. Campbell, Doris E Wilson, Paula M. Smith, and Carol Hill Wilson, for writing letters of support for the Civil Rights Trail Designation application. We thank our Vice President Larry Wilburn for putting forward the request and for overseeing the installation of the Civil Rights Timeline exhibition called The Movement in 2019.