"Get on the Bus," a panel discussion and celebration of African-American activism

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Holly Kai Hurd, art curator for the Blair Caldwell Library will be presenting a panel discussion and think tank examining art, activism and leadership in the 21st Century. "Get on the Bus!" is a component of the library's dedication of the month of November to the Freedom Rides of the Civil Rights Movement. The showing will feature several mediums and host a slew of diverse artists. Local artists will give their interpretations of activism in the African-American community in the past, as it exists now, and what activism will look like in the future. The artwork featured will encompass a wide variety of mediums from, acrylic, mixed media, photography, water colors, to quilts and t-shirts representing historic moments in black activism.

Hurd says the exhibit is a celebration of the historical significance of the Freedom Rides but the goal is to open a conversation on movements in society in general.

"We decided to make the theme of that exhibit, 'Get on the Bus,' which is going to be an examination of arts and activism in the 21st century," she says. :We wanted to broaden the conversation a little bit and not to just go over what happened with that historical event but look at what can we do now in terms of taking some notes from just those kind of people in that activist energy and spirit and get away from complacency."

The panel was designed to encourage discussion among the participants about other revolutions that have created great change in the African-American community.

"I was hoping it would open up the conversation for people to express themselves so that we can take a closer look at other movements people think are important to our history," Hurd says. "There were so many people who took on those leadership roles and responsibility and died young, and even those who put their lives on the line. People aren't that willing to put their lives on the line as they used to."

And showing this exhibit during November is important as well because, as Hurd says, the discussion of historical revolution is imperative even when there is no particular anniversary or observance tied to it. "It's important for these events to go on outside of the month of February, not jut having these conversation during Black History Month because they're applicable in my world and our world all year around."

All of the artists are local African-Americans who are immersed in activism in Denver and are familiar with the community's history in the city. Some of their pieces highlight activist movements here in Denver and the neighborhood of Five Points.

The artists featured are: Helen Littlejohn, Hurd, Maurice Ka, Van Sysds, Mary Lassiter, Randy McAnulty, Robert Evans and Yodit Gidey.

The "Get on the Bus" art exhibit is free and open to the public in the Cousins Gallery on the first floor of the Blair Caldwell Library. The exhibit opens tomorrow night with a panel discussion from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibit will be on display through December 9.

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