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Through Sleet's Eyes: A Witness to History Photography Exhibit

On exhibit at the Old State Capitol through March 31, 2024.

Untitled Design 15

On loan from the Through Sleet's Eyes Festival, Owensboro, this exhibit was curated by former Messenger Inquirer publisher and photographer Bob Morris, with valuable insights from Moneta Sleet's son, Gregory Sleet. It is currently on display at the Old State Capitol through March 31, 2024.

Sleet's photographs showcased in the exhibit are sourced from the Johnson Publishing Company Archive, made possible through the courtesy of the Ford Foundation, J. Paul Getty Trust, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution. 

Witness to History - The Photography of Moneta Sleet, Jr.

Can I get somebody to tell my story and say Amen and Hallelujah?

Can I get a witness?

And tell their story he did! For over 40 years Moneta Sleet, Jr. captured images of the American experience.  From the humanity of Martin Luther King and Appalachian school children, from marches for civil rights to the leading figures in politics, entertainment, and culture, he told their story. 

This exhibit is a small showing of his extensive work. Covering important areas from his Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph and the experience of his friendship with Dr. King, his work documenting the Civil Rights Movement, the social and cultural Black experience including his travels throughout the world, Moneta Sleet, Jr. was a witness to history. 

The exhibit hopes to demonstrate his focus on not only the humanity of a struggle but the wonder and innocence of a child.  As he once said, “Photography is a part of me.  The thing is to communicate with another human being.  I try to watch and observe a person and let them reveal themselves with a gesture or a movement…”

As his friend Lerone Bennet said of him, “He came up from Owensboro, Kentucky, up from segregation, up from Jim Crow schools and buses and cameras, and in the end by some miracle, no one can explain, he not only endured but prevailed, becoming one of the greatest photographers in the Republic and leaving a collection of indelible images that will never die.

Come with us as we celebrate the work of Owensboro’s own, Moneta Sleet, Jr. 

All images courtesy of Johnson Publishing Archives.  Courtesy of Ford Foundation, J. Paul Getty Trust, John D., and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Smithsonian Institution.  

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