Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare

Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare: Photography and the African American Freedom Struggle

Leigh Raiford
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare
    Book Description:

    InImprisoned in a Luminous Glare, Leigh Raiford argues that over the past one hundred years activists in the black freedom struggle have used photographic imagery both to gain political recognition and to develop a different visual vocabulary about black lives. Raiford analyzes why activists chose photography over other media, explores the doubts some individuals had about the strategies, and shows how photography became an increasingly effective, if complex, tool in representing black political interests.Offering readings of the use of photography in the antilynching movement, the civil rights movement, and the black power movement, Raiford focuses on key transformations in technology, society, and politics to understand the evolution of photography's deployment in capturing white oppression, black resistance, and African American life. By putting photography at the center of the long African American freedom struggle, Raiford also explores how the recirculation of these indelible images in political campaigns and art exhibits both adds to and complicates our memory of the events.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0341-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    (pp. 1-28)

    For nearly two weeks in early May of 1963, national and international audiences rose each morning to images of violence, confrontation, and resistance splashed across the front pages of their major newspapers. Black-and-white photographs paraded daily through theNew York Timesand theWashington Postdepicted white police officers in Birmingham, Alabama, wielding high-powered fire hoses and training police dogs on nonviolent black and often very young protesters (figures i.1, i.2). Organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), “Projec C” (for “confrontation”) brought center stage the publicly unacknowledged terror, violence, and daily inequities African Americans had long suffered at...

  5. 1 No Relation to the Facts about Lynching
    (pp. 29-66)

    On Thursday, November 30, 1922, James Weldon Johnson, executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), sat in his by-then familiar place in the gallery of the United States Senate. Johnson watched wearily as the fruit of the labor of thousands of women and men worldwide slowly rotted below him. After more than two years of tireless lobbying, editorializing, propagandizing, fund-raising, and protesting, the fight for the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill was coming to an end. The Dyer bill, the first legislation of its kind sponsored by the NAACP, sought “to assure persons within the jurisdiction...

  6. 2 Come Let Us Build a New World Together
    (pp. 67-128)

    In July 1962, nineteen-year-old Danny Lyon, a white man from Forest Hills, Queens, New York, hitchhiked from Chicago 390 miles south to Cairo, Illinois. Lyon had just completed his junior year at the University of Chicago where he was studying photography and history. Inspired by the nineteenth-century “historian with a camera” Matthew Brady, renowned for visually chronicling the Civil War, Lyon set out to photograph another civil war and sought to document the activities of the radical youth organization, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, better known as SNCC (“snick”). Only two years old, SNCC had already gained a reputation among...

  7. 3 Attacked First by Sight
    (pp. 129-208)

    In early May 1967, Huey P. Newton, cofounder and minister of defense of the six-month-old Black Panther Party (BPP), assembled with Bobby Seale, the party’s cofounder and chairman; Eldridge Cleaver, the recently named minister of information; Kathleen Cleaver, former SNCC member and now BPP communications secretary; and a photographer named Brent Jones. The group met in the San Francisco apartment of Eldridge Cleaver’s white attorney, Beverly Axelrod.¹ The primary purpose for this gathering was to make a photograph of Newton that could then be transformed into a poster to raise funds for and awareness about the nascent BPP. The party...

  8. CONCLUSION: Or Was It the Pictures That Made Her Unrecognizable?
    (pp. 209-238)

    Each Tuesday through Sunday for nearly two months in the winter of 2000, multiracial and multigenerational crowds lined up in the bitter cold of Manhattan’s tony upper East Side to witness a lynching. On January 13 of that year,Witness: Photographs of Lynchings from the Collection of James Allen and John Littlefield, opened at the very small, some might even say intimate, Roth Horowitz Gallery, an art space usually dedicated to the display of antiquarian books. The Roth Horowitz selected some seventy-five images supplemented by a few literary volumes, including first editions of Paul Lawrence Dunbar’sOak and Ivy, Oscar...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 239-260)
    (pp. 261-282)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 283-293)