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Message from Executive Director Don Carleton

March 2015

Gov. Bill Richardson and Don Carleton Gov. Bill Richardson and Don Carleton

Earlier this month, we enjoyed a visit from former New Mexico congressman and governor Bill Richardson. Richardson was on campus to celebrate the donation of his professional and personal papers to the Briscoe Center. During the visit, Richardson enjoyed a tour of our Research and Collections division, appeared on KUT Radio with UT Austin President Bill Powers, and was honored at the Texas State Capitol. Finally, Dr. John Hogg and David Garza, both members of our advisory council, hosted a reception in his honor. 

During these events, Governor Richardson spoke enthusiastically about the many reasons he chose the Briscoe Center as the repository of his papers. One of the recurring themes in his remarks was the importance of our civil rights and social justice collections, a subject obviously dear to his heart considering his work as a humanitarian and international negotiator. 

In particular, Richardson highlighted the center's Spider Martin Photographic Archive and our long history of collaborations with national organizations like the Smithsonian and LBJ Presidential Library. With that in mind, I am sure Governor Richardson would appreciate our April 8 program, Art and Evidence of The Civil Rights Movement. I will join LBJ Presidential Library Director Mark Updegrove and Blanton Museum Curator Evan Garza for a conversation about the civil rights movement that focuses on images from the Blanton's Witness exhibition and the Briscoe Center's photojournalism collections.

The program will start at 6:00 p.m. at the LBJ Auditorium, and is free and open to the public. Seating is limited, so if you would like to attend please contact our Special Events & Annual Giving Officer Ashley Carr at (512) 495-4609 or by email. The panel discussion will be preceded by a special viewing of our March to Freedom exhibit at 4:30 p.m. (on display at the LBJ Library). 

Destiny of Democracy: The Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential LibraryThe program also marks the launch of the LBJ Library's new book Destiny of Democracy: The Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library, which is published by the Briscoe Center. I want to thank the center's Director of External Affairs Erin Purdy and our Head of Publications, Dr. Holly Taylor who worked so hard with LBJ Library Director Mark Updegrove and me to bring this beautiful book to fruition. Destiny of Democracy commemorates last year's historic civil rights summit on campus. For three days last April, four U.S. presidents joined veterans of the civil rights movement and a host of experts for a celebration of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and a discussion of our nation's mixed record on social and political progress ever since. Images from the summit are contrasted with those from the Briscoe Center's photojournalism collections, many of which speak to the tragic violence that reared its ugly head in the face of peaceful protests over 50 years ago. Written by Mark Updegrove, the book features an exploration of Lyndon B. Johnson's civil rights legacy.

This graphic juxtaposition of triumph and tragedy is what makes the book so compelling. The most obvious example of this is the fact that Congressman John Lewis, who wrote the book's foreward, appears in images both from the 2014 summit and from Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965. I'm proud that the Briscoe Center not only preserves evidence of the past — but also makes that evidence available to the public through programing and publications. 

If you are interested in ordering a copy of Destiny of Democracy you can do so from our distributor, the University of Texas Press.

Don Carleton, Ph.D.
Executive Director
J. R. Parten Chair in the Archives of American History
 

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