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SPLC Civil Rights Memorial Center

Southern Poverty Law Center

Montgomery, AL

The SPLC’s Civil Rights Memorial Center hired Monadnock Media to help them come up with a new concept for its multimedia experiences. Monadnock worked with SPLC team members to brainstorm new themes for their galleries and exhibits, to make the media more relevant to today’s museum visitors and, most importantly, to motivate people to take action for racial equity and social justice. The slogan, “Apathy is not an option,” became our clarion call, with the goal of helping visitors see themselves as being a part of a community and as agents of change.


Designer
Monadnock Media
Size
5,000 sq. ft.
Components
7

Roles
  • Media Master Planning
  • Media Design
  • Production
  • A/V System Design
  • Tech Systems Oversight
  • Installation

Featured Components

The Civil Rights Movement

In the first gallery, The Hall of Martyrs, 15-foot walls filled with a collage of civil rights imagery commands visitors’ attention. Monadnock suggested creating a short intro video that would help visitors understand the background to the civil rights era and the pervasive racism and violence that gave rise to the martyrs’ untimely deaths. But instead of using a screen, we decided to project directly onto the mural. By all accounts, it’s an unusual and extraordinarily effective way of integrating media into the space. In three minutes, the voices of civil rights veterans, poignant footage and photographs, and an intense soundtrack create an unforgettable story that helps visitors better appreciate the significance of the rest of the exhibits as they move through the museum.

Apathy is Not an Option

Apathy is Not an Option is both the title and main theme of the orientation theater program. We were determined to bring past and present together in a way that would inspire people of all ages to move beyond the personal and begin to understand their roles in their communities and as citizens of this nation.

The theater experience plays out on nine screens and highlights the legacy of the civil rights movement on activism today. The story is a testament to the tenacity, energy and resilience of activists throughout the ages. Using interviews with activists old and young, Tik Toks of teenagers expressing their fears, protest footage across the country, as well as powerful archival footage and photos, we weave together the story of the civil rights movement and today’s fight for equity and justice for all. The result is a fast-paced, deeply emotional and, ultimately, hopeful story that leaves the audience clapping and dancing, prepared to take part in the ongoing struggle for democracy.

Today’s Activists Interactive

Outside of the theater four, large vertical monitors display colorful placards that move across all of the screens and represent a range of the issues the SPLC is engaged in. Visitors can explore the ways that everyday folks have created organizations or gotten involved with issues that have mattered to them. The idea is to show people ways they can take action, also reinforcing the importance of connecting with one’s community.

A Community Poem

We were inspired by Kwame Alexander’s community poem on NPR about Ahmaud Arbury’s killing and asked him to create a community poem for this final gallery. Over 1000 people submitted poems and Kwame chose lines out of 50 of them to use in his warm and hopeful poem, A Civil Community. The words artfully play out on a large monitor with attributions to the many people around the country whose verses inspired the final poem.