Former Middlesbrough defender Curtis Fleming is supporting a unique touring exhibition at Teesside University which uses the US civil rights movement to inspire and raise awareness of social injustice.
The Journey to Justice exhibition will be held at Teesside University during October as part of Black History Month.
The exhibition raises awareness of the struggles faced in the US and the UK by people who have been marginalised in some way and aims to inspire visitors to take action against social injustice.
Curtis Fleming and his wife Lucie are patrons of Justice First, a charity which works with people in the Tees Valley who are seeking asylum.
The pair will help launch the exhibition during a special opening on Thursday 6 October, alongside Dr David Bell, the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (International).
Journey to Justice is a multimedia, interactive exhibition, with visual displays, artwork and poetry, set against a soundtrack of freedom songs played on a jukebox.
It focuses on the role of less well-known women, men and children involved in the US Civil rights movement and its links to movements in the UK such as the 1963 Bristol bus boycott.
One of the stories that will be shared is that of Ruby Bridges and Barbara Henry. Ruby made history as a six-year-old girl in 1960 as the first African American to be given a place at an all-white elementary school. Barbara Henry was the only teacher at the school who would teach Ruby.
At the time, angry parents took their children out of school in protest against integration and by the end of the week Ruby was the only student in the class. Despite having to be escorted to school by four US marshals due to violent mobs, she continued to attend school and didn’t miss a day all year.
Carrie Supple, Director of Journey to Justice, said that Ruby’s story “moves, outrages and inspires visitors.”
The exhibition is open to everybody and is being held from Monday 3 October to Wednesday 19 October, 9.00am to 5.00pm in Brittan Hall at Teesside University. Visitors are welcome to drop in and view the exhibition at any time.
Carrie added: “Our mission is to inspire and empower people to take action for social justice. Our aims strike a chord with people of all ages whether they are concerned about poverty, racism, care of the elderly, unemployment or domestic violence.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Teesside University and are looking forward to another successful and well-attended exhibition.”
Jill Morgan, Dean of the School of Design, Culture & the Arts at Teesside University, added: “This is a fascinating and inspiring exhibition and we are proud to be hosting it here at Teesside.
“Black History Month is an appropriate time to share the stories of people who have battled social injustice and this exhibition is something that can be experienced by our students, staff and our wider communities.”
Other events being held at Teesside University during Black History Month include a performance by renowned performance poet Linton Kwesi Johnson on Friday 14 October, A Taste of Africa event, with African food, fashion shows, dancing and drumming, on Saturday 8 October and the Black History Youth Awards on Friday 21 October, which will celebrate the achievements of young black people.