The Los Angeles-based Museum of Social Justice has recognized California State University, Northridge journalism professor Kent Kirkton, director of the Tom and Ethel Bradley Center at CSUN, for his efforts to promote social justice and civil rights. The museum is housed in the historic Los Angeles Plaza United Methodist Church and educates the community on the history of Los Angeles diversity.
Kirkton, an emeritus professor in CSUN’s Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication, has worked since 2009 with the museum to help preserve the Plaza church’s 100-year-old legacy through a set of educational and social outreach programs.
“[The museum] is the community’s history,” Kirkton said. [That history] could be lost to the public. The museum preserves the life story of community members.”
Besides his partnership with the museum, Kirkton has directed the Bradley Center since its founding as the Center for Photojournalism and Visual History in 1981 in CSUN’s Department of Journalism.
“Twenty-five years ago, [the center] started with just a file cabinet [with] lots of things,” Kirkton said.
It was renamed the Institute for Arts and Media in 2008, as its number of participants and mission had broadened over the years. In 2015, the institute developed an ongoing relationship with the Tom and Ethel Bradley Foundation and was renamed the Tom and Ethel Bradley Center.
Today, the center’s photograph collection in the Delmar T. Oviatt Library showcases more than 1 million images by LA-based photographers. Thousands of images include the work of prominent African-American photographers such as Guy Crowder and Harry Adams. The Bradley Center boasts the largest collection of African-American photography in the country. The collection provides images for books, has been featured in exhibitions and provides information CSUN students wouldn’t find anywhere else, Kirkton said.
The Museum of Social Justice had a collection of approximately 2,000 photos, and Kirkton invited museum staff and volunteers to deposit and digitize the photos at the Bradley Center at CSUN, he said.
The museum contains a permanent exhibit on the Los Angeles Plaza United Methodist Church’s long history of goodwill toward the less fortunate and parishioners’ and clergy’s progressive social work and outreach endeavors. Other exhibitions explore the rich and diverse ethnic, religious and racial communities of LA and beyond. Through such programs, the museum provides outreach, knowledge and empowerment to the community.
Although an emeritus faculty member, Kirkton works with the Oviatt Library’s websites and specifically their metadata collection, sets of data that describe and gives information about other data. In addition to photos, the Bradley Center collects a variety of donated items, such as newspaper articles, posters, monoprints and cameras, Kirkton said.
Kirkton also works collaboratively with Keith Rice ’10 (History), M.A. ’12 (History), who served on the board of the museum as well. When Rice was a CSUN student, Kirkton mentored him, and today, Rice is the president and historian of the Bradley Center.
For more information about the CSUN’s Tom and Ethel Bradley Center, visit csun.edu/bradley-center.