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Eye-Opening Civil Rights Era Photos On Display In Fort Lauderdale

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – At 83-years-old, photographer Bob Adelman has many stories to tell and he's doing just that with his new South Florida exhibit which documents the civil rights movement.

"The Movement: Bob Adelman and Civil Rights Era Photography" premiered Saturday evening at The NSU Museum of Art in  Fort Lauderdale.

As the official photographer for civil rights organizations, Bob had a special vantage point at the forefront of the movement and captured the eras' most iconic images through his lens.

One photograph taken in 1963 captured black demonstrators binding together to withstand the tyranny of the times through a blast of a fire hose.

"Those hoses were so powerful they could tear the bark off tree, so the only way they could stand up to them was to stand up as a community as a group," described Adelman to CBS4's Lisa Petrillo.

"Now they seem like momentous events. At the time, they were covered in the back pages of newspapers, for the most part. The only time blacks appeared in newspapers at that time was when there was violence," Adelman said.

The eye-opening exhibit features 150 color and black & white photographs of one of the most turbulent times in American history and to mark the half-century since the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964.

Mike Jackson is the CEO of AutoNation, the head sponsor of the retrospective.

"It's a powerful story that needs to be told. These images bring to life the struggle that was fought in America for equality and civil rights that we take so much for granted," said Jackson.

Dr. Martin Luther King's nephew, Isaac Newton Farris Jr., was on hand opening day as the keynote speaker.

"Bob Adelman is such a great photographer and one of the few that caught some of most passionate and meaningful moments in the history of the movement," said Farris.

The photographs chronicle the struggle for black Americans equality in the United States. Bob Adelman was there to bear witness to these pivotal times in American history.

"What the movement did was to peel off the off layers of segregation. It was totally un-American and people saw it and said it had to stop," said Adelman.

Adelman volunteered his services as a photographer to the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He went on to shoot the covers of national magazines and the front pages of national newspapers, but he always considered himself an activist.

Adelman wanted to capture the spirit of the demonstrations on film, but frame after frame focuses on bodies — how the people in the movement physically moved.

"The Movement: Bob Adelman and Civil Rights Era Photography" is located at the NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale now through May 17.

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