Blue Star Museums Blog (Archive)

What's on View at the Levine Museum of the New South

Charlotte, North Carolina

Segregated water fountains on display in Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers. Photo courtesy of the museum

Levine Museum of the New South focuses on the history of the American South from 1865 to today. The heart of the museum is a permanent exhibit titled Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers, featuring  interactive environments  and more than 1,500 artifacts, images, videos, music, and oral histories that tell the stories of how the South has evolved and reinvented itself since the end of the Civil War.

In April of this year, Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers debuted a new, expanded end section, including more recent history and cool new interactives for visitors, such as a video-talkback booth, and the chance to "Picture Yourself in History." Using green screen technology, visitors can select an exhibit image, get their picture taken in front of it, and email it to themselves as a souvenir of their visit. Another fun interactive features large touch screens with historic images to "Remix History."

A recreated lunch counter features videos of local Civil Rights leaders telling their story of participating in the Sit-in Movement.

One of the sections in Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers that generates incredible visitor interest and responses is "We Shall Overcome." Water fountains with signs for "colored" and "white" originally installed in Charlotte City Hall in the 1950s help illustrate the segregated South. Visitors can take a seat at a recreated lunch counter to watch videos of local Civil Rights leaders talking about their roles in the Sit-in Movement. News footage of Civil Rights events, such as the Selma Bridge confrontation, plays on a TV in a 1960s-era living room.

A bar graph made of books illustrates the inequality of resources given to black and white schools. Photo courtesy of the Levine Museum of the New South

Upstairs, COURAGE: The Carolina Story That Changed America is currently on display. The exhibit tells the story of a how a group of citizens from a small rural South Carolina community came together to fight to end segregated, unequal schools, a fight that would lead to Brown vs. Board of Education.

As the story unfolds, visitors discover the stark differences in black schools and white schools. A three-dimensional “bar graph” constructed from books illustrates how much money was spent on black students compared to white students.

Within the COURAGE exhibit, visitors learn about the "doll test" and research conducted for Brown v. Board if Education.

A large reproduction of the petition, signed in 1949 at a meeting in Liberty Hill AME Church is displayed with photos of the individuals---many children and teenagers at the time---who signed it.

Later on in the exhibit, visitors meet Thurgood Marshall, who at the time worked for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and was persuaded to take the South Carolina case, and would ultimately argue it in front of the Supreme Court. In researching and preparing for the case, the famous "doll test" was conducted in select communities, providing critical evidence for Marshall and his team.

Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. Seventh Street
Charlotte, North Carolina 28202

Please visit the Blue Star Museum website for more information about the program and to find participating museums.

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