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This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement is a paradigm-shifting publication that presents the Civil Rights Movement through the work of nine activist photographers-men and women who chose to document the national struggle against segregation and other forms of race-based disenfranchisement from within the movement. Unlike images produced by photojournalists, who covered breaking news events, these photographers lived within the movement-primarily within the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) framework-and documented its activities by focusing on the student activists and local people who together made it happen. The core of the book is a selection of 150 black-and-white photographs, representing the work of photographers Bob Adelman, George Ballis, Bob Fitch, Bob Fletcher, Matt Herron, David Prince, Herbert Randall, Maria Varela, and Tamio Wakayama. Images are grouped around four movement themes and convey SNCC’s organizing strategies, resolve in the face of violence, impact on local and national politics, and influence on the nation’s consciousness. The photographs and texts of This Light of Ours remind us that the movement was a battleground, that the battle was successfully fought by thousands of “ordinary” Americans among whom were the nation’s courageous youth, and that the movement’s moral vision and impact continue to shape our lives.
The history of the civil rights movement is commonly illustrated with well-known photographs from Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma—leaving the visual story of the movement outside the South remaining to be told. InNorth of Dixie, historian Mark Speltz shines a light past the most iconic photographs of the era to focus on images of everyday activists who fought campaigns against segregation, police brutality, and job discrimination in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and many other cities. With images by photojournalists, artists, and activists, including Bob Adelman Charles Brittin, Diana Davies, Leonard Freed, Gordon Parks, and Art Shay, North of Dixie offers a broader and more complex view of the American civil rights movement than is usually presented by the media.North of Dixie also considers the camera as a tool that served both those in support of the movement and against it. Photographs inspired activists, galvanized public support, and implored local and national politicians to act, but they also provided means of surveillance and repression that were used against movement participants. North of Dixie brings to light numerous lesser-known images and illuminates the story of the civil rights movement in the American North and West.
Presents forgotten photographs that capture the heroism and struggles of black activists during the civil rights movement, in a collection that illustrates why certain events have been edited out of America's photographic history.
Childhood joy, pleasure, and creativity are not often associated with the civil rights movement. Their ties to the movement may have faded from historical memory, but these qualities received considerable photographic attention in that tumultuous era. Katharine Capshaw’s Civil Rights Childhood reveals how the black child has been—and continues to be—a social agent that demands change. Because children carry a compelling aura of human value and potential, images of African American children in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education had a powerful effect on the fight for civil rights. In the iconography of Emmett Till and the girls murdered in the 1963 Birmingham church bombings, Capshaw explores the function of children’s photographic books and the image of the black child in social justice campaigns for school integration and the civil rights movement. Drawing on works ranging from documentary photography, coffee-table and art books, and popular historical narratives and photographic picture books for the very young, Civil Rights Childhood sheds new light on images of the child and family that portrayed liberatory models of blackness, but it also considers the role photographs played in the desire for consensus and closure with the rise of multiculturalism. Offering rich analysis, Capshaw recovers many obscure texts and photographs while at the same time placing major names like Langston Hughes, June Jordan, and Toni Morrison in dialogue with lesser-known writers. An important addition to thinking about representation and politics, Civil Rights Childhood ultimately shows how the photobook—and the aspirations of childhood itself—encourage cultural transformation.

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