A collection of photographs documenting civic protests in Washington, D.C., in the 1960s is on display through July 17 at the White Water Gallery, River Street, East Hardwick.
Entitled, “PROTEST, Washington, D.C., 1967, 1968, 1969,” the work is by Ross Connelly, a former co-publisher and editor of The Hardwick Gazette, 1986-2017.
After retiring, Connelly unpacked long-boxed negatives and printed a sampling. The images, which he took while in college and afterward, are of the October 1967 Pentagon March, the Howard University student rebellion of March 1968, troops that occupied the city after Dr. King was assassinated in April 1968, and of the Vietnam Moratorium March of November 1969.
While an undergraduate, he volunteered to be a grip for a West German television journalist who came to Washington to cover the 1967 Pentagon March. Connelly also documented some of the student rebellion at Howard, one of the first uprisings in 1968 of American college students, which ushered in a tumultuous year on many campuses in the United States and abroad.
He was working for the Poor People’s Campaign when King was assassinated in April that year and troops occupied parts of the city. The November 1969 Vietnam War Moratorium photos came as part of a photography apprenticeship he had after college.
Connelly said the protests of the 1960s remain significant, even if controversial to some. They are, he says, rays of sun over clouds casting shadows on an uneasy landscape.
Looking back 50 years, Connelly said he saw racial hatred and a cultural divide that are still a part of today’s reality. The push for voting rights in the 1960s remains as the effort to suppress the vote is rampant. Restricting the teaching of history is a continuation of the focus in the 1960s, and earlier on, history as defined by “Great White Men.” Women were calling for rights in the 1960s, and long before. Coordinated attacks in state legislatures and the court system on women’s civil rights are not new. Police were often violent oppressors in the 1960s as civil rights marchers and war protesters were arrested, beaten and shot. The ongoing deaths of Black people at the hands of police and white supremacists stretch back centuries.
Connelly hopes this group of photographs will open, or reopen, a window to that time and be a reminder people protested then and still need to engage, stand up and speak out now.
There will be a closing reception from 4-7 p.m., on Sunday, July 10.
For additional information, call 802-563-2037 or 802-535-8602.