18/07/2015 09:21:00 | News


The Kennedys and the struggle for civil rights

18 July – 20 September 2015


CAPRI, ITALY – 14 July 2015 – The Friends of the Certosa di Capri, in conjunction with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Europe, announce the opening of the photographic exhibition at the Certosa di San Giacomo in Capri at 6 p.m. on Saturday 18 July. The exhibition is being promoted by Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Europe in conjunction with the United States Embassy in Italy, while Contrasto e Fondazione FORMA is in charge of the photography. More than eighty high-impact photographs will be on display that take the visitor back to the nineteen fifties and sixties, the years of the civil rights movements in the United States.

“I am extremely grateful to the Mayor of Capri, Giovanni De Martino, for hosting the 'Freedom Fighters' exhibition”, stated Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. “These images provide us with the opportunity to take a break and reflect in the example that John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr left us during their long struggle for the recognition of civil rights in the United States, an example that ought still to be an inspiration for us all today”.

The Kennedys engaged themselves politically to ensure that every individual could have equal opportunities regardless of their social position, their religious creed or the color of their skin. This exhibition, which is divided into two sections, follows the path of the civil conquests achieved in the United States thanks to the commitment and support of John and Robert Kennedy.

The first section of the exhibition provides an accurate history of events covering the steps that marked the struggle for civil rights, running through the various phases and the people who brought them to life – including Malcolm X and Martin Luther King -  and using texts and images which, like cinematic film, roll on large wall panels. The exhibition starts from 1776, the year in which the Committee of Five consisting of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston and Roger Sherman submitted their Declaration of Independence to Congress, and continues through to 1964, the year in which Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The second section presents a number of large-scale photographs that recall the iconic gestures and images which marked the most important and emblematic moments of this great civil struggle.

From the famous shots that remind us of the absurdity of racial segregation in the nineteen fifties (images by Elliott Erwitt and Eve Arnold, among others) to the photographs of the clashes in Birmingham and those that portray the “Freedom Riders” movement or the daily political activity of the Kennedy brothers, taken at meetings or public rallies or encounters with the press and the leaders of the emancipation movements. Finally, in the shots taken by Bruce Davidson, Danny Lyon and other great photographers, the emotion of the March on Washington is relived in all its greatness, as is the return of Martin Luther King to the United States after receiving the Nobel Prize, surrounded by the crowd, in the image of Leonard Freed. Freedom Fighters enables us to understand the importance of a civil struggle conducted with courage, faith and determination to affirm a fundamental principle: equality between human beings.

Shots taken by Harry Benson, the Life photographer who was with Robert Kennedy at the time of his assassination, will also be on display. Both Harry Benson and Kerry Kennedy, Robert’s daughter, will attend the opening together with other special guests. Freedom Fighters was shown at the MAXXI in Rome in 2013 and following that in Milan, Florence and Lucca. The Capri exhibition is the first showing in southern Italy.

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Europe would like to thank Fawn Wilson White, the International Chairman of the Friends of the Certosa di Capri; Anna Maria Romano, the director of the Certosa di San Giacomo; Mariella Utili, the director of the Commission for Architectural Heritage in Naples; and the United States Diplomatic Mission to Italy. The “Freedom Fighters” exhibition arrives in Capri thanks to the support of Energetic Source S.p.A., Utopia Lab s.r.l., ENSTO Italia and Liquid Art System.

The following exhibition will be opened in the Certosa at the same time.



An international art exhibition produced by children, inspired by the Freedom Fighters exhibition and organized by the Friends of the Certosa di Capri (Canada). Pupils between the ages of 8 and 14 were invited to explain their understanding of the words freedom and justice and then make drawings based on their experience. The exhibition includes images that arrive from schools in Italy, Canada, Belgium and the United States, as well as drawings by refugee children in Syria, Kurdistan and Iraq.

On the evening of the opening the Friends of the Certosa di Capri (Canada) will present a short program on the subject of human dignity. The Italian actress Milena Vukotic, the President of the Certosa Kids Club, will read The Cake/ La Torta, a short tale commissioned by the friends for the evening, based on a real life story and dealing with the return of an Afro-American soldier from the First World War. After this the jazz artists Tia Architto and Nadia Natali, accompanied by Salvatore Mufale on the piano, will give their interpretation of the Agnus Dei taken from the gospel mass Missa Nobis composed by Edward (“Eddie”) Hawkins. Missa Nobis was played by a group of artists including Eddie Hawkins in Milan in 1968 on the evening after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.. That evening Eddie Hawkins interrupted the concert and dedicated the AgnusDei to the memory of Dr. King. Since then, the Missa Nobis has always been closely associated with Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement, especially in Italy.

Fawn Wilson White, the International Chairman of the Friends, has said: “We are very proud that the Certosa di San Giacomo in Capri will be the first place in the south of Italy to present the Freedom Fighters exhibition, which deals with extremely important issues in the field of basic human rights. We would like to thank the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and in particular its President, Kerry Kennedy, the Campania Museum Commission, the City of Capri for its moral patronage and support and our sponsors Energetic Source, Utopia Labs, Ensto Italia, Liquid Art System the United States Diplomatic Mission to Italy."

“The City of Capri is very pleased and honored to provide its moral patronage to the Friends of the Certosa di Capri for the ‘Freedom Fighters: the Kennedys and the struggle for human rights’ exhibition, presented in conjunction with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Europe and staged in the Church of the Certosa di San Giacomo. This is an initiative of great social and cultural importance which opens up an important window on the nineteen fifties and sixties and in particular the struggle to win civil rights in the United States. An initiative that will most certainly have a return for the image of the island of Capri, which thanks to its thousand year old history and cosmopolitanism has always been the crossroads of international trade, a source of dialogue and discussion and the cradle of culture and art. There couldn’t have been a more prestigious event to open the season of the unity of intents and the mutual collaboration initiated with the Friends of the Certosa di Capri, known for their significant commitment to supporting the promotion of the historical site, as a means of boosting what the island has to offer from a cultural and touristic standpoint throughout the world”, stated Giovanni De Martino, the Mayor of Capri.

The Certosa di San Giacomo is a public monument owned by the state and managed by the Campania Museum Commission. The Friends of the Certosa di Capri is an international association of charitable organizations having headquarters in Britain, the United States, Italy and Canada, with the additional support of Germany, Sweden, Russia, Brazil, Belgium and France. It is dedicated to the restoration and maintenance of the Certosa di San Giacomo and the support of its cultural programs. The Friends include artists, musicians, writers, art historians, lawyers, businessmen and lovers of Capri in a variety of countries who through their voluntary commitment and financial support want to provide a tangible contribution to the preservation of the architectural, artistic and cultural heritage of the Certosa and the Island of Capri.



Luciano Garofano

Press Relations

City of Capri

Tel: + 39 081 838 6217



Press office RFK Human Rights Europe

Valeria D'Agostino


Cell. +39 349 221 0113

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