Exhibition Opening: To Make the Voice Heard

For the first time in two years, Pitts Theology Library is opening a new gallery exhibition! Pitts’ 22-case gallery was temporarily closed during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the staff cannot wait to reopen the space as a window into the library’s world-renowned Special Collections and Archival Holdings.

This Spring, the library invites visitors to experience To Make the Voice Heard: Howard Thurman’s Prophetic Spirituality and Recordings During the Long Sixties. Curated by Dr. Timothy M. Rainey II (St. Olaf College) with support from Dr. Spencer Roberts (Head of Digital Initiatives and Technology), this exhibition invites visitors to listen to Pitts’ digitized Howard Thurman audio collection (thurman.pitts.emory.edu) while viewing items from the Bailey and Thurman Family Papers held by Emory’s Stuart A. Rose Library.

Exhibition poster for To Make the Voice HeardHoward and Sue Bailey Thurman spent nearly fifty years traveling the world, building interfaith networks, and expanding how scholars and activists imagined the democratic community. A prolific writer and speaker, Howard Thurman’s influence extended beyond the audiences he captivated in the flesh and included the millions who would enter the room by way of his recordings. To Make the Voice Heard: Howard Thurman’s Prophetic Spirituality and Recordings During the Long Sixties illuminates how the sonorous tenor of Thurman’s voice cultivated meditative encounters among audiences within whom he aspired to awaken a radical pursuit for common ground during the mid-twentieth-century era of profound social transformation.

Reflecting on the curation process, Dr. Rainey explains, “As Pitts Theology Library prepared to launch The Howard Thurman Digital Archive in 2019, I accepted an incredible opportunity to author the first round of metadata that would accompany Thurman’s recordings. Still completing my dissertation, the breaks I took from writing to work on the digital archive did not feel like work. Each assignment offered a reflective interruption amid the rapid pace of daily life. A few years later, when Bo Adams proposed that I take the role of lead curator for an exhibition on Howard Thurman, I didn’t hesitate to accept. To Make the Voice Heard invites audiences to pause, observe, and attempt a meditative encounter with the figure’s sonorous speech. Through recordings, photographs, and artifacts – highlighting years of global ministry shared with his partner Sue Bailey Thurman – visitors will find a Howard Thurman profoundly impacted by injustices in the world and committed to thinking broadly about the work of love and democratic hope. Image of exhibition gallery listening roomA teacher, minister, writer, advisor, and civil and human rights advocate, Thurman introduced Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence to civil rights discourse in the United States and was a constant resource for prominent leaders during the mid-twentieth century. He often encouraged activists to rest and achieve ‘healing detachment.’ We hope that all who attend the exhibit adopt this wisdom and find within the woven fragments of Thurman’s life inspiration to relate to the world in fresh and meaningful ways.”

This exhibition is open during library hours to Emory students, faculty, and staff, in addition to the general public. Please note that Emory cards are required, or visitors can make a reservation at pitts.emory.edu/reservations to visit the gallery. Find parking information and directions to the library at pitts.emory.edu/parking.