Black Life Matters Feature of the Week: Evidence of Things Un*Seen

By Candice Frederick
March 5, 2015
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

This week's feature is provided by Shola Lynch, Curator of our Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division. Here she discusses the importance of archival video and audio materials to black history and our newest exhibition, Curators' Choice: Black Life Matters.

"The Evidence of Things Un*Seen underscores Arturo Schomburgʼs mission for his collection. As Schomburg wrote in his 1925 essay “The Negro Digs Up His Past,” he collected “vindicating evidences” of black history and achievement to articulate an overlooked truth. Although the Schomburg Center did not start collecting moving image and recorded sound materials until the 1970s, the items in this exhibition fit squarely into Schomburgʼs original mission by literally giving movement and voice to black history and culture.

Guided by these principles, and as a new curator still getting to know the 5,000-cubic-square foot collection, I focused my curatorial lens on items that revealed or reminded me of black agency, ingenuity, and voice. For example, there the award-winning but little seen documentary that is centered in heart of the Civil Rights struggle titled King: A Filmed Record...Montgomery to Memphis (1970). To mark the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery, those vivid scenes are projected large scale on a wall in our Latimer/Edison Gallery. Also featured is audio recorded by artist and Selma participant Ken Dewey, who offers an exploration into the raw landscape. I have also included long play (LP) record covers and an iPad that allows visitors to take a closer look at the record cover graphics and listen to the songs, speeches, stories, and poems that articulate black voices.

My hope is that these selections inspire teachers, researchers, and the public to consider moving image and audio materials as a portal into the sights and sounds of a culturally rich and nuanced black past—the evidence of things forgotten or unseen."