Spotlight: Black History Month Local Photo Exhibit Spotlights the Emotional Aftermath of Racism and Prejudice
A series of haunting portraits and meaningful quotations is currently on temporary exhibit at the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida. The exhibit, titled Uprooting Prejudice: Faces of Change, was created by photographer John Noltner, who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, close to where George Floyd was killed during an encounter with police on May 25, 2020.
A few days after Floyd was killed, Noltner went to the site to bear witness. On Thursday, he returned with a basic studio photography kit, set up on the sidewalk and asked a simple question: “What do you want to say?” The subsequent exhibit highlights people of all ages and backgrounds and tells their stories of dealing with racial inequality.
“I hope that through these stories and these faces, you can understand the events of our day in a new way,” said Noltner. “I hope you can challenge some of your own preconceptions and see the humanity of each and every person.”
Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings and members and guests of the Orange County’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Initiative attended the exhibit’s grand opening on Dr. Martin Luther King Day on January 18, 2021.
“It was 53 years ago when Dr. King made his impassioned civil rights speech, and now, generations later, a new movement, Black Lives Matter, is pushing for social justice reform,” said Mayor Demings. “Today’s grand opening is meant to honor Dr. King and several other principles of nonviolence.”
The Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida opened in 1981. It was then known as the Holocaust Project of Valencia Community College and founded by Tess Wise, a local Holocaust Survivor from Poland. Its mission is to use the history and lessons of the Holocaust to build a just and caring community free of antisemitism and all forms of prejudice and bigotry.
“This exhibit is a tie to human rights being violated,” said Lisa Bachman, the Center’s assistant director. “The messages on the photographs are the exact words these people used to express themselves. There were several I recognized as thoughts I’ve had, and it made me realize I’m not alone in my thinking. When you realize this, it gives you the courage to stand up and speak out.”
The Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida, which is located in Maitland, has created a safe environment for those who wish to view the exhibit. Masks are required, not optional. The exhibit is open on Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. and on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Reservations are required and can be made on the website. You can also call and make an appointment for a special tour (407-628-0555). The exhibit runs through the end of March 2021.
Photo cutline: Members and guests of Orange County’s MLK Initiative view the Uprooting Prejudice exhibit at the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Central Florida.