Current Exhibition


NOW – MAY 14, 2017


©1966 Maria Varela, Courtesy CDEA

©1966 Maria Varela, Courtesy CDEA

As relevant today as they were half a century ago, more than 150 black-and-white images chronicling the Southern Freedom Movement are featured in This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement. The 4,000-square-foot multimedia exhibition features works by nine activist photographers who documented the clash between institutionalized discrimination and determined resistance by activists and volunteers. “The power of these photographs that helped catapult long-existing inequities into the national consciousness is undeniable,” asserts Maltz Museum executive director Ellen Rudolph. Pain, fear and hope—the emotions and momentum fueling the movement are palpable in the images.”

The Maltz Museum added videos, interactive features and material about racial division today. “This exhibition is very timely,” says Museum co-founder Milton Maltz, noting its relevance to recent shootings, riots, vigils and protests in Baltimore, Charleston, Cleveland, Dallas and Milwaukee. “Ordinary people risked everything to fight for equality in the segregated South of the 1960s. The question this exhibition asks is, 50 years later, who will take up the challenge to right inequities that continue to spark anger across this country? How can we heal this open wound of racial division in America?”

“As a museum of diversity and tolerance depictions of everyday people who stood up for justice fits perfectly with our efforts to encourage individuals to understand and accept their roles in ending intolerance and indifference," asserts Museum education director Jeffery Allen. “It is as Cleveland’s own Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., a former regional director of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a Selma march participant once put it, ‘If there is no conscience in the community, we have to be that conscience.’"

Recognizing racial divisions weren’t relegated to the South, This Light of Ours also includes content related to Northeast Ohio’s own turmoil and triumphs at this critical moment in American history. “During this same decade Cleveland experienced the Hough uprising of 1966 and the long struggle to desegregate Cleveland's public schools,” notes Allen. “The region also witnessed the 1967 election of Carl Stokes as the first black mayor of a major American city and the groundbreaking role played by his brother, Louis, in the U.S. House of Representatives. Exhibition-related programming will be tied into community-wide commemorations of these milestones, examining their legacy in light of current events.”

This Light of Ours features photographers Bob Adelman, George Ballis, Bob Fitch, Bob Fletcher, Matt Herron, David Prince, Herbert Randall, Maria Varela and Tamio Wakayama. The photographic portion of the exhibition was organized by the Center for Documentary Expression and Art with major support provided by the Bruce W. Bastian Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts. Curator: Matt Herron; Historical Consultant: Charlie Cobb Jr.; Project Originators: Leslie Kelen and Steven Kasher. The films, design and exhibition experience were conceived and produced by the Maltz Museum.  


  • "Poll taxes, literacy tests, periodic purges of voter rolls were all tactics used to keep African Americans from voting. Armies couldn't change those policies, but regular people did." Fox 8 News 
  • This exhibition is "amazing . . . possibly one of the best explorations of our civil rights movement that I've ever been able to witness."
  • As "a museum of diversity and tolerance, civil rights history is important to learn," said Ellen Rudolph, museum executive director. "They're important to all of us." – My Ohio with Leon Bibb, WEWS TV-5
  •  "We often think of history as words recorded in a textbook, but some of the most powerful stories of our past are told through images." ideastream
  • "The exhibit showcases events that took place more than 50 years ago, but they could be seens from recent protests taking place in cities around the country." Phenomenal Woman Magazine 
  • "The overarching story is one of the power of everyday people to come together and organize and stand up and effect change.” Morning Journal 
  • "A gripping new exhibit on the 1960s civil rights movement at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage shows how history moves in cycles that all too often repeat." Plain Dealer
  • "Students are saying 'this is just like today.' They are drawing direct parallels to who has power, who is empowered to speak and who has power to make change." Kaleidoscope, WEWS TV-5
  • "There is still much turmoil, mistrust and racial division and we felt this exhibition illustrates that those struggles are a continuum."  WOIO, Cleveland 19 News 
  • "The idea of being able to take ownership by grassroots organizing proves that everyday people can make change that lasts forever." Canton Repository
  • "How can we heal this open would of racial division in America?" Fine Lifestyles Magazine 
  • "This exhibit shares the courageous efforts of those who came before us and challenges us to do our part today." – WKYC TV-3, Golden Opportunities 
  • This Light of Ours "comes during a time when issues of race are on the minds of many . . . you can’t help but think about what’s happening in the country today as you look at these images.” News-Herald 
  • "The movement is an extraordinary window into our power and who we are as a people. Not only can we destroy each other but we can transform each other too." Scene 
  • "Before social media, people heard about the civil rights struggle through the hard work of writers and photographers “embedded” into the movement . . . bringing back scenes of racial division, homegrown terror, Ku Klux Klan attacks, and the heroic efforts of those working on the right side of history." Cool Cleveland 
  • "More than 150 gripping pictures [show] . . . everyday people who came together to stand up against what seemed to be insurmountable adversity.” Cleveland Magazine 
  • "Maltz Museum’s 'This Light of Ours’ is a journey through pain and triumph." Mark of Excellence 
  • "The broader message is that the civil rights movement was not a moment in time, but civil rights are something we constantly have to fight for.” Cleveland Jewish News 


This Light of Ours








Watch a short teaser for the exhibition featuring Voices of Imani gospel choir here

This Light of Ours







See photos from the opening of This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement here


  • ADMISSION: This Light of Ours is included with Maltz Museum admission: $12 adults, $10 seniors (60+) and students, $5 youth (5-11) and FREE for Maltz Museum Members and children under 5. Groups of 10 or more are eligible for guided tours and a discount with advance registration.
  • EXHIBITION/MUSEUM HOURS: Tuesday – Sunday, 11am -5pm, Wednesday, 11am-9pm. The Museum is closed Mondays. (Note: The Museum recently changed its Saturday hours to open at 11am.)
  • GUIDED “DROP-IN” TOURS: Docent-led tours of This Light of Ours are available Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm with regular Museum admission.


Cleveland Browns

Cleveland State University

The Cleveland Foundation

Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Humanities Center at Cuyahoga Community College

Milton and Tamar Maltz


The Treu-Mart Fund


Stanley Blum

Ruth G. and Sam H. Sampliner Fund of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland


Case Western Reserve University

Catholic Diocese of Cleveland

Cleveland Clinic

Forest City Enterprises

Jewish Federation of Cleveland

Alan and Karen Krause

Audrey and Albert B. Ratner


David Reynolds, Key Private Bank

Barbara S. Robinson



Dan and Ellen Zelman


ADL Cleveland
Barry Feldman
Stewart and Donna Kohl
Noreen Koppelman-Goldstein and Barry Goloboff
Malik Law
Melamed Communications
Anne L. Meyers -- Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis
Abe and Barb Miller
The Nathan and Fannye Shafran Foundation
Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland
Donna Yanowitz


Coleman Spohn Corporation

Grant and Jennifer Dinner

Larry and Suellen Kadis

Hoover Milstein

David and Inez Myers Foundation