When the civil rights movement moved to Chicago in the mid-1960s, a priest named Bernard Kleina felt compelled to get involved. The Chicago Freedom Movement, led in part by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., protested the unfair housing policies. Kleina, who was 30 years old at the time, decided to remove his collar, pick up his camera, and march. These photographs, titled “The Healing Power of Hope; The Chicago Freedom Movement, Then & Now,” will be on exhibit at Loutit District Library on Wednesday, Jan. 21 from 9 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. in the upper level lobby. (407 Columbus Avenue, Grand Haven) To close the exhibit, Kleina will present an in-depth discussion on his works beginning at 7 p.m. on the upper level lobby. During this program, Kleina will draw names for two pairs of tickets to the movie, Selma provided by and now showing at the Grand Haven 9. Entry forms for the drawing will be available at the Library’s circulation desk throughout the day to anyone viewing the exhibit.
Kleina’s photographs are important because they are some of the only known color photographs of King in Chicago. “They tended to use more black and white for news coverage and general reportage,” says David Haberstich, a photography curator at the American History Museum’s Archives Center. Kleina photographed in color for a simple reason-that was how he always shot. Decades later, the technique has proved valuable.
“When you look at some of the black and white [photos], at least for younger people, they think, oh that was way back in the Middle Ages,” Kleina says, “and so my photographs, I think, are a little bit more relevant for a younger audience.”
“It’s my hope that the collection of photos will help people better understand the struggle for civil and human rights in Chicago and throughout the country,” he says. “The struggle for civil rights continues and we still have a long way to go.”