Google Cultural Institute Commemorates U.S. Civil Rights Movement

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2014-04-09

Google Cultural Institute Commemorates U.S. Civil Rights Movement

The Google Cultural Institute is highlighting the U.S civil rights movement through a fascinating collection of documents, photographs and film clips in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The new online collection is being unveiled just as the LBJ Presidential Library holds a three-day Civil Rights Summit from April 8 through 10 in Austin, Texas, to mark and discuss some of the most monumental legislation of our nation's history.

The new online exhibit and the Civil Rights Summit were announced by Susan Molinari, vice president of public policy for Google, in an April 8 post on the Google Public Policy Blog. Google is providing technology to help support the summit by live streaming panel discussions, presentations and other activities that are ongoing at the event, she wrote. The presentations will also feature comments from four former U.S. presidents.

"Each day will also feature heroes from the civil rights movement, the sports arena and the music industry, as well as panels on new civil rights challenges around immigration rights, gay rights, women's rights and so much more," wrote Molinari. "We hope you can tune in, but if you miss the live stream, you can find all of the content on the LBJ Library's YouTube page."

For those who want to explore the history and eventual passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Google Cultural Institute's new collection is a great starting point. "Much of the content on the site is from the LBJ Presidential Library and features images, letters, telegrams, and video from January 1961 when President Kennedy first takes office to July 1964 when President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act into law," wrote Molinari.

Among the highlights of the online collection is an emotionally worded telegram from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to President Kennedy from June 1963, as well as a personal request to meet with Kennedy on the day of the March on Washington in August 1963, from one of the organizers of the March. Also included is a copy of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 itself.

The collection, with its photos, documents and other content, is moving as it describes and re-creates the turmoil of the nation during the period, which also included the shocking assassination of President Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963.

"We are honored to be able to help capture this important event and this special exhibit highlighting one of America's most pivotal moments in history," wrote Molinari in her post.

The Google Cultural Institute has been actively adding to its growing collections.

In March, the Institute unveiled a new online exhibit about the fascinating colonial history of Nigeria as part of the Institute's efforts to preserve cultures that are in danger of being forgotten in the future. In that exhibit, Nigeria's Pan-Atlantic University presented its collection of rare historical documents and photographs spanning the years 1851 to 1914, to tell the story of Nigeria's formation as a colony.

A second exhibition traces the transformation of Lagos, Nigeria's largest city, from a cosmopolitan colonial trading center to West Africa's largest metropolis. About half the world's 6,000-plus languages and cultures today will disappear by the end of this century if nothing is done to preserve them, according to a recent study from UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).  That's where the Google Cultural Institute and its exhibit came in, according to an eWEEK report.

Google Cultural Institute Commemorates U.S. Civil Rights

The Institute was established in 2010 to help preserve and promote culture online, to make important cultural material available and accessible to everyone and to digitally preserve it to educate and inspire future generations, according to the Institute.

The museum's exhibits already cover a wide swath of the history of the world's cultures, as well as a huge and growing collection of art, artifacts and more from around the world. The Google Cultural Institute hosts marvelous online collections of artwork and cultural treasures that are in hundreds of museums, cultural institutions and archives around the world, according to the group. Google created the organization to help show the collections virtually to people around the globe.

The Google Cultural Institute includes the Art Project, with some 40,000 images of world-renowned and community-based artwork from more than 40 countries; the World Wonders Project, which includes images of modern and ancient heritage sites from around the globe using Street View, 3D modeling and other Google technologies; and archive exhibitions featuring massive collections of information from institutions and museums the world over, much of which cannot always be put on public display, according to Google.

In March, the Institute launched an online "Women in Culture" project that tells the stories of known and unknown women who have impacted our world as part of the company's commemoration of International Women's Day on March 8. The fascinating online feature included 18 new exhibits that showcase detailed stories about amazing women throughout our history.

In December 2013, the Google Cultural Institute gained more artwork for its online collections, including a new assortment of pieces that challenge the visual perceptions of viewers.

The online institute features a collection of more than 57,000 pieces of art.

In November 2013, the Google Cultural Museum showcased the five handwritten versions of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address online in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of his famous and moving 272-word speech. The five versions were placed online in a special gallery for viewers to read and review. Five different copies of the Gettysburg Address were written by Lincoln and given to five different people, each named for the person to whom they were given, according to


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