Home Magazine How Activist Bernard J. Kleina Documented the Combat for Honest Housing

How Activist Bernard J. Kleina Documented the Combat for Honest Housing

Images shot by Bernard J. Kleina have been proven all around the world, however it was by no means his intention to turn out to be an expert photographer. He simply wished to seize a slice of historical past. A Roman Catholic priest on the time, Kleina, who had marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama, introduced his digicam to a rally led by the civil rights icon at Chicago’s Metropolis Corridor in 1965. When King moved right here the following 12 months to advocate for honest housing, Kleina documented the demonstrations, typically turning his lens on hecklers and people making an attempt to cease the marches by violence. “At instances it was tough as a result of I’d attempt to take an image whereas blocking cherry bombs and bottles,” he says.

A block from a King rally, Kleina photographed white agitators vandalizing the car of a Black family.
A block from a King rally, Kleina photographed white agitators vandalizing the automobile of a Black household. {Photograph}: Bernard Kleina

Kleina’s photographs kind the centerpiece of In Focus: The Chicago Freedom Motion and the Combat for Honest Housing, operating March four to June 20 on the Elmhurst Artwork Museum. Along with greater than 35 of Kleina’s pictures, the exhibition consists of residential maps, information articles, and audio interviews associated to the honest housing push earlier than, throughout, and after King’s time in Chicago. The present examines the problem within the present second with pictures taken by college students at York Neighborhood Excessive Faculty and members of the museum’s Teen Council, prompted by quotes from honest housing activists. On show within the museum’s McCormick Home is a collaborative set up by Pittsburgh artist Alisha Wormsley and Faculty of the Artwork Institute of Chicago professor Ayanah Moor: a collage of photographs and placards of grassroots activist teams corresponding to Mothers four Housing, based mostly in Oakland, California.

King at the August 1966 Marquette Park demonstration
King on the August 1966 Marquette Park demonstration. {Photograph}: Bernard Kleina

The exhibition delves deep into Kleina’s work, going past his documentation of King’s protests to discover his personal native activism over the course of half a century. He was a priest at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, throughout the road from the museum, and marched in civil rights demonstrations in a close-by park. After leaving the priesthood in 1968, Kleina labored at HOPE Honest Housing Middle, a nonprofit in Wheaton, for greater than 40 years, ultimately serving as its government director earlier than retiring in 2011. Whereas there, he took pictures to assist individuals of shade hold their properties. “Town mentioned that homes have been in such poor restore that they needed to be all torn down,” he remembers. “They photographed them from the alley, with a rubbish can in entrance, making the house look as unhealthy as attainable. And I waited for a sunny day, and the properties seemed lovely. I took that to the Justice Division.”

Kleina’s want is that this present will underscore how integral the housing facet was to King’s imaginative and prescient. “When individuals consider civil rights, they consider voting rights, integrating lunch counters and ingesting fountains, and so forth. Honest housing has been type of the stepchild of the motion.”

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