For Freedoms: Civil Rights and Human Rights

Freedom of Speech
Freedom from Want
Freedom from Fear
Freedom of Worship

Who could access these freedoms in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, and who can access them now? How much has changed in Alabama and the nation, and how can we learn from the civil rights era today?

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a speech that has come to be known as “The Four Freedoms.” In it he argued these universal civil rights were the foundation of a healthy, strong democracy. This exhibition explores these four fundamental freedoms through four civil rights era works,one tied to each freedom, and one contemporary commentary on the movement. All five objects are drawn from the Birmingham Museum of Art’s permanent collection.

While highlighting the Museum’s collection of civil rights photography, this exhibition also asks visitors to consider who has access to these freedoms today and what is the role of art in defining these freedoms. For Freedoms: Civil Rights and Human Rights will be on view as citizens prepare to exercise their right to vote in the midterm elections across the country this November. Voter registration forms will be available at the Museum, as well as a voting guide outlining the necessary steps to cast a ballot.

For Freedoms: Civil Rights and Human Rights is made possible by the City of Birmingham.

About For Freedoms

For Freedoms is an artist-run platform for civic engagement, dialogue, and action through the arts. It was founded by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman. In 2018, For Freedoms is sponsoring local, statewide, and national initiatives encouraging engagement with and participation in the political process. This exhibition is part of a larger collaborative effort between cultural institutions in Birmingham and across Alabama to create exhibitions and programs tied to For Freedoms. For more information visit:

About Collection Highlights

Collection Highlights is an ongoing series of exhibitions located in the Main Lobby on the First Floor of the Museum that showcases strengths in the permanent collection.