Tuesday, May 5, 2015
7:00 PM to 8:30 PM EST

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Elizabeth Taylor 
America in Class – National Humanities Center 

Imaging Civil Rights:
Photography and The Movement

Webinar Leader

Sara Blair, Professor
Department of English Language and Literature
The University of Michigan

Webinar Details

As a mode of witnessing and documentation, a form of memorial, and a tactic of exposure, photography played a critical role in the movement for African American civil rights. Many historians mark the start of this engagement in 1955, with the murder of Emmett Till and the complex use of photographs to respond to that event. Over the next decade and a half, image-making would be embedded within the struggle for racial justice and civil rights both at the institutional level (through in-house photographic projects at SNCC, CORE, and other activist groups) and on the broader landscape of American photojournalism.

With respect to a wide range of images by such photographers as Bob Adelman, Bruce Davidson, Danny Lyon, Charles Moore, Gordon Parks, Moneta Sleet Jr., Maria Verela, Matt Heron, Tamio Wakayama, and Roy DeCarava, we’ll explore the agency of photography in arguments for inclusion, desegregation, cultural enfranchisement, economic justice, and the failures and promises of America. Some of our key interests will include the representation of private as well as public spaces as battlegrounds; stagings of encounters across regions (North–South) as well as race and identity difference; and the struggle for ownership of imaging and images, played out not only in movement activities but also in their documentation. Participants need not have particular experience with visual materials; part of our work will be to consider how to engage with photographs as historical objects and as invitations to meditate on lived experience.