'The Road to Freedom' exhibit at High - Johnny Jackson

The clear black-and-white photographs still tell the individual stories of a generation. The subjects within, and their faces, are frozen in a time not too long ago.

The images show vividly and honestly the particular character of the period, between 1956 and 1968, known as the Civil Rights Movement.

Recently, I toured a new exhibit being featured at Atlanta's High Museum of Art. "The Road to Freedom" exhibit is a collection of documents, artifacts, and photographs taken by photographers of that era.

From the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the marches of Selma, the scenes are as we saw them growing up, and more real than before. The images have characters, storylines, and authors.

I attended the exhibit on June 8 with dozens of others - young and old - who, as I, found the displays equally significant to the past and present of this nation's history.

The works of the exhibit are artistic, too - the congruous fashions of the period are juxtaposed to tumultuous scenes. In some photos, tired, weakened faces dominate otherwise quiet settings.

There are no true textbooks in the exhibit. You learn, however, by the specs of each exhibited piece, what happened and why. And to an extent, you roundly understand what happened then, and what your parents or grandparents or great-grandparents were faced with.

On the one hand, the movement versus the establishment would have been confusing. And on the other hand, the movement was obvious, even to those who resisted it - and even to those who took advantage of it.

There is nothing spectacular about the exhibit - no colorful ornaments of any kind, really.

All the same, this exhibit is dramatic on its merits, its context, and its simpler content. Perhaps, it is not for everyone, as it merely reproduces a history of which the vast majority of us are already aware.

Still, I recommend the exhibit, particularly to those who are far too young to know much about the Civil Rights Era and certainly to those parents and grandparents who lived it, and may be able to relay its impact to the younger generations.

It helps, after all, to know how far we have come -- to know how far we can go.

The exhibit will be at the museum through Oct. 5.

Johnny Jackson is the education reporter for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at jjackson@henryherald.com or at (770) 957-9161.