See ‘Chicago Freedom Movement,’ an exhibit of historic civil rights photos, at Addison Center for the Arts

An exhibition featuring the remarkable color photographs of the American Civil Rights movement captured by Bernard Kleina has recently opened at the Addison Center for the Arts. “Chicago Freedom Movement” is on display through April 27.

During the tumultuous 1960s, when black and white photography dominated, Bernard Kleina broke the mold by documenting pivotal moments of the civil rights movement in vibrant color. His lens captured the passion, determination, and struggle for equality that defined an era.

The collection, graciously loaned to the Addison Center by the Elmhurst Art Museum with the photographer’s consent, showcases Kleina’s unique perspective as a photographer, equal housing activist, and ally to the civil rights cause.

Among the luminaries depicted in Kleina’s photographs are iconic figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, Rep. John Lewis, Mahalia Jackson, and many others who shaped the course of history with their unwavering commitment to justice and equality.

On Friday, April 19, students from Addison Trail and Willowbrook high schools will be able to engage with Kleina. This experience will give students a historical perspective on the civil rights movement through Kleina’s first hand encounters with prominent leaders.

Kleina’s journey as a civil rights activist and insights into the struggles for equality in Chicago and Selma will inspire and encourage students to become socially conscious and politically engaged.

About Bernard J. Kleina: A Lifelong Advocate for Justice

Bernard J. Kleina’s journey as a civil rights activist began in 1965 when he witnessed the brutality of “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama.

Moved to action, Kleina, then a Catholic priest, joined the struggle for voting rights and was arrested for peacefully protesting. Since that pivotal moment, he has dedicated his life to pursuing justice, facing threats, attacks, and adversity with resolve.

As the executive director of HOPE Fair Housing Center in Wheaton for over four decades, Kleina has been a leading voice in the fight against housing discrimination. His advocacy extends beyond fair housing to encompass broader social issues, earning him acclaim as “a champion of fair housing and other social concerns.”

Kleina’s impact transcends traditional boundaries. His photography and multimedia presentations serve as powerful tools for education and outreach. His work has been exhibited worldwide, inspiring dialogue and action on civil rights, fair housing, and social justice.

For more information about the exhibition and related events, visit or

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.