In 1966, at the age of 21, Samuel Younge Jr. went into a store and used a whites-only restroom.
The storeowner told Younge, an African-American man, to leave and, when he did not, threatened his life.
As Younge got off at his bus stop a few minutes later, the storeowner was waiting for him and shot him dead.
To honor Younge and other civil rights activists from the Tuskegee area, the Social and Community Engaged Practice class led by Breeden scholar Rick Lowe and associate professor in art Wendy DesChene has teamed up with Tuskegee Safe Haven to put on an event and fundraiser called ‘‘Speak Easy, Listen Hard!’’
Safe Haven is an after-school program to help kids from ages 8-12 stay off the streets, and has worked hard to educate the kids on the activists.
Lindsay Steelman, member of the social practice class and junior in communication, said the event was being held to spotlight not only civil rights leaders, but the children of Safe Haven.
“We want to draw all of the attention to Safe Haven and all of the wonderful things they are doing,” Steelman said.
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The exhibition will be held at Fieldwork Projects gallery in Auburn on April 29 from 5-7 p.m.
The exhibition will feature paintings from both the kids and members of the class, live performances and a publication containing interviews with civil rights leaders.
There will also be a fundraiser to help provide equipment for the kids, featuring an auction with a canvas painted by the kids.
The artwork and fundraiser will be held at Fieldwork, but next door at Perch and Mama Mocha’s there will be handmade jewelry and a play performed by the kids.
At Fieldwork, there will also be videos running of the children performing re-enactment skits.
The event is based on the importance of connecting Auburn and Tuskegee, which were once close cities, according to Steelman.
“We want to set the groundwork to build a bridge between Auburn and Tuskegee again,” Steelman said.
By hosting the event, Steeleman said Tuskegee and its people are put on a platform for all of Auburn to see.
“We really want a deeper connection with the city of Tuskegee,” said Jonathan Bailey, student in the class and senior in fine arts.
The class has been working on their Tuskegee Appreciation Project since the beginning of the semester, and it will be put on entirely by the students.
Steelman said since working on the project now she has a changed perspective on Auburn.
“I had always thought of Auburn as one thing, but now my eyes have been opened to a new, welcoming side of Auburn,” Steelman said.
Emi Peters, administrative support associate for the department of art and art history, said going into the community and working on a collaborative project is the best way to expose this group of awesome kids.
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