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Marshall Meyer Exhibit Opens Monday
Durham, NC - "I have no right to be silent in the face of injustice!" Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer said in a 1991 sermon. "I cannot dare to hide in my garden when people scream in pain! Nor can you, whether you are conservative or liberal, rightist or leftist or centrist.... That's one of the reasons to be an activist."
An ordinary American whose extraordinary convictions, faith, and impetuous personality impelled him to become a leading human rights activist during Argentina's Dirty War (1976-1983), Meyer left not only a legacy of faith and teachings to his students and congregations but also a compelling model of how a person of faith can embrace activism as a central part of their religious life. He died in 1993.
That legacy is on display in a new exhibit that opens at Duke on Oct. 3. Based on materials culled from Meyer's personal papers housed in Duke's Special Collections Library, the exhibit consists of 12 banners, each approximately 3 feet wide by 6 feet tall. The design incorporates materials culled from the Meyer archives, including intimate family photos, moving letters from prisoners, original art work internal government memos and rare human rights publications.
The text was prepared by Katharine French Fuller, a Duke graduate student in history, under the supervision of Patrick Stawski, Duke's human rights archivist. The design was executed by Pam Chastain and James Jarvis of Pam Chastain Design.
Along with faith leaders such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Meyer was an early human rights leader who has inspired many students and fellow activists.
"Whenever I speak to faith communities about human rights and their place in faith traditions, these are my three modern touchstones," said Robin Kirk, program director of the Duke Human Rights Center.
The exhibit has been on display at the Organization of American States in Washington, DC, as well as B'nai Jeshurun and the Jewish Theological Seminary, both in New York City and places where Meyer studied or worked. The purpose, Kirk said, is not only to inspire an admiration of Meyer's work but also to promote community dialogue about faith, activism and human rights.
"The Marshall Meyer papers are a perfect candidate for a traveling exhibit. Not only is Marshall's work and legacy incredibly compelling but we were also fortunate enough that he left behind a rich documentary legacy which his family had the foresight to preserve in partnership with Duke University Libraries," said Stawski.
The exhibit opens on Oct. 3 with a 5:30 p.m. ceremony at the Goodson Chapel at the Duke Divinity School. The ceremony will include comments by Meyer's son and social activist Gabriel Meyer, as well as a performance of sacred Ladino music by the Jewish Chorale of the Triangle. Among the singers is Meyer's nephew, Eric Meyers, Bernice & Morton Lerner Professor of Center for Jewish Studies and Religion at Duke and the director of the Center for Jewish Studies. A reception will follow outside the Goodson Chapel.
The exhibit is funded by the generosity of an anonymous donor and is a co-project of the Duke Human Rights Archive at Duke University Libraries, The Duke Human Rights Center and the Duke Center for Jewish Studies.
For more information on the exhibit, visit: http://library.duke.edu/specialcollections/human-rights/ .
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