“You can’t see Jim Crow and you can’t see oppression in these photos. That’s by design, but it’s also, I think, a great relief to many people who come to this exhibition,” said the exhibition’s chief curator, John Edwin Mason, a UVA associate professor of history.
Making the exhibition accessible was important to Mason and library curator Holly Robertson. The photos brought to light a rarely seen side of Black life before desegregation, but not everyone who wanted to see the exhibition was able to come to Grounds.
“We wanted to make sure that the exhibition does not simply stay on Grounds; it goes out into the world,” Mason said.
Parts of the exhibition will travel to other locations in Central Virginia, like the Nelson Heritage Center in Nelson County and Westminster-Canterbury, a retirement community in Charlottesville. There aren't plans for it to travel outside of the region. Robertson said it's important that the exhibit is local, though she's received requests to take it out of state.
“You get to go to your archive, you find something that is local to your place, a community of people who are special to where you are,” Robertson said.