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April 4, 2011 6:08 PM   Subscribe

Images of a People's Movement - more than 18 pages of photos and dozens of first-hand narratives, interviews & recollections of the 1951-1968 Southern Freedom Movement by the Civil Rights Movement Veterans. (These are just samplings - it's a deep and rich site.)

In May, WGBH has a related upcoming American Experience, Freedom Riders - you can see some excellent excerpts posted online now.

Here are a few other related links:
Civil Rights Era Mugshots
Civil Rights - selections from 27,000 images taken mainly in the South during the 1960s.
Freedom Rides - Recollections by David Fankhauser
Riding to Freedom
posted by madamjujujive (12 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
This is wonderful; thanks for posting it madamjujujive.
posted by .kobayashi. at 6:25 PM on April 4, 2011

This is a fantastic collection.

You know, when I look at these photos, what I see most starkly isn't the marchers; it's the people protesting against them, and the cops beating them, and the children spitting on them. I always want someone to track down individuals in the crowds and ask them "Tell me what you were thinking in this photo. Do you feel that way now? Did what you were afraid of come to pass?"
posted by DarlingBri at 6:29 PM on April 4, 2011

Photo #11939: Ralph David Abernathy
Photo #11941: Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth


"I will kill segregation, or segregation will kill me." -- Fred Shuttlesworth, who was beaten, shot, stabbed, had his house bombed twice, and who IS SO FUCKING BADASS that he's still with us today.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:35 PM on April 4, 2011 [5 favorites]

(Great post! Now let's go back further: Emancipation Day in Richmond, VA, 3 April 1905, a mere forty years after Emancipation, in the capital of the Confederacy.)
posted by orthogonality at 6:54 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Giants all.
posted by stbalbach at 6:58 PM on April 4, 2011

Did what you were afraid of come to pass?

Nah, these are the same red state voters who think America has gone to hell and we need to return to some fabled golden past, implicit in their vision is that the progressive politics of the past 50 years has been a failure.
posted by stbalbach at 7:40 PM on April 4, 2011

I grew up thinking the great struggles were mostly past. Slavery was over with. Every adult in America, man or woman, white or of color, has the vote. My teacher stopped class and turned on the news so we could watch the Berlin Wall being torn down. My first war, or at least the first I really remember, was the Gulf war. I had some Gulf War trading cards at the time; a few tanks, the stealth bomber. We totally won that one.

Over the past few years, I've become increasingly aware that there are great ongoing fights as important as the one to end segregation. The problem is that today's struggles aren't depicted as what they are because the media gatekeepers have thrown their weight behind the machine--all-in, no holds barred this time; not even isolated attempts at objectivity or truth. Massive protests are treated like jokes, if they are covered at all. Righteous calls to action are ignored or distorted. Great injustices are glossed over. There is no sense of history or context, only an endless stream of fifteen seconds ago that is unceasingly manipulated.

This leaves the great mass of people fragmented, aware of their rapidly shrinking quality of life but not the context behind it. American's don't understand, on the whole, that the fight to treat illegal alien workers like human beings is the same as their own fight for a living wage, affordable healthcare, and all that other American Dream stuff. They don't see that how workers are treated overseas affects their lives at home. They don't see how the military industrial complex is devouring their own country as well as destroying others. They don't see that it's not homosexuals that are threatening their values and their way of life; far from it. It's the distorting pressure of a society built around treating everyone but the half of one percent at the top as disposable.

The ever-shrinking number of people still making middle-class money have had their pensions replaced with 401k plans and Roth IRAs: financial instruments designed to give them the illusion of having a stake in the great corporate shell game that exists only to funnel money into the hands of value-draining administrators and middle-man "experts." So they call for business friendly legislation, tax breaks, increased efficiency, less oversight. Without an average 7% increase in their stocks year over year, they won't be able to make ends meet once they're forced out of their job because they have too much experience, too high a salary, and too many expectations compared to the youngsters so eager to replace them. They don't see enough of the picture to recognize that they are voting for their own victimization.

Seeing evidence of the progress that was made in the past tastes bittersweet today. The same strength is still there in every single working class pleb and caring intellectual and spiritual leader and living, thinking person with a soul, but money and privilege has gotten smarter at dividing those who have everything important in common.

The people still have as much strength and anger as ever, but there is no focus and no understanding. The fights I've seen in my life have always been local, always fragmented, and frequently victim-on-victim, with the real perpetrators not on anyone's radar.

It's like we're living in segregation times, only without a Dr. King or Rosa Parks or Malcolm X; in colonial India without a Gandhi; in Egypt with no Moses.

It's fucking depressing.
posted by jsturgill at 7:43 PM on April 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

Thanks for posting this. I love this ending from Garry Wills review of one of the Taylor Branch histories of "America in the King Years" (and imagine if you told JFK or Hoover he was living in the King years and not the other way around)
... Branch reminds us of many others killed in the struggle, most of them not often remembered—people like Samuel Younge, a SNCC organizer shot during an argument with a white gas station attendant who wouldn’t let him use the “whites only” bathroom; Vernon Dahmer, whose house was firebombed after he announced on the radio that he would be collecting voter registration forms and supplying poll tax loans to fellow Negroes; Ben Chester White, a sixty-five-year-old farm caretaker randomly picked up by a car full of Klan members under the pretext that they were hiring him to do chores, and shot nineteen times in the back seat of their car. With this roll of martyrs in mind, it seems almost miraculous to watch a film of the nameless poor, heartbreakingly turned out in their best clothes, marching into danger, being hosed and herded and beaten—and, incredibly, coming back for more. It reminds me of the end of Chesterton’s fantasy The Man Who Was Thursday, in which a band of revolutionaries discover that they were all recruited, unbeknownst to each other, by a benevolent man who foresaw their dangerous struggles. One of them asks if that man did not consider their actions ridiculous. He tells them what he saw: “Iliad after Iliad.”
posted by shothotbot at 7:59 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

You have out done yourself. Again I thank you for posting another of your discoveries. I had no idea that these images and writings were available for vewing online. Seeing them brought back many powerful memories. I was in Georgia from late 1966 through December 1967. Before seeing the pictures and stories I had only dim memories of those times and events.
posted by X4ster at 9:03 PM on April 4, 2011

Wonderful post, as always MJJJ. Incredibly timely too, as the Smithsonian Prepares Civil Rights-Era Artifacts. (Another NPR story) Also the Smithsonian Folkways has a soundscape of the era.
posted by dejah420 at 9:46 PM on April 4, 2011

great post madame. But an odd situation in one case.
posted by clavdivs at 11:36 PM on April 4, 2011

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