Photojournalism And The Civil Rights Movement

Photographs as historical options have always played out a role in the value of documenting incidents, especially so in the last century. There were many disagreements concerning whether such options were valid before this time. Images in history provide a wider knowledge and knowledge of the time the particular one was learning, as it has been said that, an image paints a thousand words, used in the correct framework. However many images can be easily forged, it is therefore important to carefully examine all images used. Not surprisingly images were extremely powerful in the ways in which they helped to improve ideas in modern culture; it could be argued that the impact of images has been underrated, and they have never been acknowledged as being as important as they really were.

Photojournalism in the United States of America in the 1960s was vitally important to the arriving and development of the civil privileges movement. It got an optimistic impact upon the activity as well as the professional photographers that documented the experience of customers of black and other cultural groups. It had been also responsible for highlighting and getting support for the activity. Images which were typically taken of this group of folks before this time around represented them to be violent, uncooperative and even portrayed them as the 'jokes' of world. Images came out in daily papers such as Time, Life and Look, as well as other well known journals and journals such as Ebony, Jet and Our World. These latter journals were read by a predominantly dark-colored audience. Photojournalism helped to change the ways that these folks were portrayed, as it centered closely on black neighborhoods as well as their have difficulty for liberty. This movement was portrayed in a way whereby there is no bias to the photographs. In the way in which white professional photographers still wanted to take photographs of this time and weren't denying that which was occurring around them. However, taking the images might not have been their main priority, but making additional money. Many of the photography enthusiasts were white who did not always disagree with the movements but observed it as there responsibility to photograph that which was going on at that time. The images simply made it possible to freeze a scene in time which could be viewed by many, which acted as evidence for what many people tried out to deny was happening. As far as evidence showed none of these photographs had been contrived or staged for added impact. Alternatively protests and rallies could have been scheduled which therefore meant that photographers could actually position themselves properly. It has been recommended that 'Sometimes the atrocities are believed to have taken place chiefly because there were cameras at the ready. . . . ' The images that were picked to be come in magazines and magazines would have been preferred from a more substantial selection of images from the same event. This would have made the viewer assess and find out what exactly the photographer was attempting to convey. There definitely would have been competition between the photographers and periodicals to print out the most powerful image. One example of this is Herbert Randall who was simply a photographer that centered on Hattiesburg, Mississipi during Liberty Summer, 'At the final outcome of Freedom summer time in August 1964, Herbert Randall had taken the 1, 759 negatives he previously shot during those earlier 8 weeks and returned to New York. ' However only 831 of the images were actually developed from negatives. His work was employed by various media magazines throughout America including, Black color Celebrity, the Associated Press, United Press International. Only five of the photographs were posted in the summertime of 1964, in support of a small amount of the images were branded, 'Few of Randall's photographs were seen or even branded until 1998 when he donated the negatives to the School of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. '. 'However there is an exhibition to show the general public his work, 'The college organized a traveling exhibition for 100 of the photographs'. Although we can say for certain that the images that he have take were not seen by the American modern culture for some time after the event, which was for an exhibition and would not have had a direct impact towards the Civil Rights Movements.

Photojournalism had a significant and powerful role that can be played in the Civil Rights Movement. Nonetheless it wouldn't normally have been possible without the countless talented professional photographers that presumed in the value of showing these images to the general public. A few of the most successful photojournalists during this time period were Gordon Parks (1912-2006), Charles Moore (1931-2010), Turn Schulke (1930-2008) a white freelancer, and Bob Adelman (1930- ), to name a few. These photography lovers must have sensed great enthusiasm for what they were doing as many risked their lives to have amazing photographs. It was said by the reporter called Nicholas Von Hoffman that, "Charles Moore was fearless. He was known as the cameraman at the point of risk, at where the rocks were being thrown and the billy golf clubs were being swung. He was always there".

Photographers at the moment could be catergorised by the ones that wanted to create change by firmly taking photographs, those that were thinking about a salary only and didn't feel anyways into the movement. Those that were taking photos as an art, as well as the photojournalists which were against the movements and wished to portray this in their work. This essay will be taking these issues into consideration, but will not be taking a look at those against the movement, as it generally does not match the hypothesis. Being a white southern journalist Charles Moore thought highly about the activity, he was transferred by what he was witnessing and used the only path he knew to attempt to produce a change, which was along with his camera, he was struggling with from the Jim Crow discrimination.

Photojournalism experienced always enjoyed an important and effective role in political affairs and in the 1960s this didn't change. The success of the movements helped in many regions of black peoples' lives. The activity meant that dark-colored children could actually go to integrated schools and black individuals were for the first time in a position to graduate from college or university.

Campaigning commenced for a civil protection under the law movement after occasions in the us were publicised about the segregation of blacks and whites. One of the most famous occurrences that chrystalized the motion was when in 1955 Rosa Parks, a local person in the National Connection for the Growth of Coloured People, refused to give up her seat over a bus for a white man. This defiance and function of bravery from Parks led to her being imprisoned and a 381 day boycott of the bus system that was organised by Martin Luther King Jr. who at the moment was only a Baptist minister. Even though King was found guilty in the courts in 1956 for conspiracy to boycott Montgomery buses, his fine was finally suspended. This protest was successful and was able to end segregation on transport systems. Many have argued that it was this event that commenced the fight primary fight for liberty for black Us citizens. However a great many other groups opposed the new route that America was endeavoring to take; one of the most lively was the Klu Klux Klan, a hate group company that believed in white supremacy.

Some of the most influential figures of the time that fought for the civil rights motion included Martin Luther Ruler Jr. , Malcolm X and President John F. Kennedy. Despite attaining support for the movement, it was still a struggle, however finally in 1964 the Civil Rights Act was handed down. This recommended that racial discrimination in public places was now illegitimate. The action also guaranteed that employers integrated regulations to give similar opportunities to black as well as white employees of their organisations. It was not until the next year that more black people were allowed to vote after various disputes the Voting Protection under the law Act was handed in 1965.

This task investigates the ways in which photojournalism acquired a effect on the civil rights activity, gained votes for the movements and highlighted hard ships for black families, as well as the way the images were identified. It will also look at the ways that photos in mag and newspaper publishers were allocated and viewed. Despite the fact that there have been other minor happenings that were happening at exactly the same time, the have difficulty for civil rights was recorded the most through-out this era. The large majority of professional photographers risked their lives to consider photos in dangerous and unstable configurations, 'Photographing such situations was both defiant and dangerous. '

It might have been argued that images produced by photojournalists acted as propaganda for the movement. However it was not only the images that helped to get this done but also the written text that accompanied it.

Chapter 1 - What the images where and by whom?

How images were seen and looked at- Many of the images that were used at the elevation of the issue with black Us citizens were duplicated in several magazines and newspaper publishers. At the time a few of the images were used improperly and thus gave a different interpretation to what have been intended when the original photograph was used. It would have been true to state that images which were a product of such violent events were not later actually used inappropriately but different periodicals centered on the same images but merely centered on different political things. '. . . each uses the photography differently, in order to underline its own political views. ' A lot of the photographs that noted these important days were not contrived and gave a true bill of the important days. The majority of the photographs that were considered were spontanious or were create to a degree. The photographer would have been educated about the positioning of rallies or protests that were scheduled to occur, therefore the photographer could set up their station consequently to adopt the best images that they could. However, this may not be said for the photo taken by Jan Kaulins () named 'Rosa Parks rests over a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956' as there have been not any photography enthusiasts present at the moment that she refused to stop her seat on the bus. (See Appendix 1) Therefore Kaulins staged the photograph that was used, so that there is photographic imagery of the function even if it was staged. This image is one of the very most powerful and memorable images from the civil rights movement.

Society's opinion- Nearly all images which were circulated showed needless violence towards the dark-colored community, however some images weren't shown in white mediums. 'Since the mainstream press is mainly (and at that time was almost exclusively) white, the idea of view of white photography lovers influenced the reactions of the white audience. ' Life Publication was one of the major newspapers that was read throughout the 1950s and 1960s, 'With over 1 / 2 of the American adult human population reading it, Life was seen by more folks than any television set program. ' They helped to see the white community of what was happening in the 'real world', the world beyond your neighbourhood where they resided. The use of the white photojournalists could have been seen as the 'go-between', between dark-colored and white People in america, and thus bridging the gap between both communities.

At this time around Birmingham was the most segregated city in the United States. It was said by one campaigner that, '"In Birmingham, white people acquired a great deal of hate and little esteem for dark-colored folk"'. Even therefore of Birminghams' reputation a reader of LIFE explained how the powerful images transformed his behaviour and views. '"As a white Southerner who believed in white supremacy until I'd possessed a bellyful and realised I was all incorrect. . . "' This is his response to Charles Moore's photographic article in the letters to the editor portion of the May 17 1963 issue of LIFE journal. The photos that Moore had taken centered on Birmingham Campaign of 1963. This was only one mans opinion after he previously seen the images by Moore and how that they had helped to improve his perceptions of black people.

"The photos of Bull Connor's police dogs lunging at the marchers in Birmingham do approximately anything to convert the national feelings and make legislation not just necessary, . . . but possible. " This image brought the issues to the for front of the American governments agenda, it was such a troubling image of that which was going on in the South, that it could no longer be overlooked, dismissed or denied any more. The picture also reached out to other black Americans that were not moving into the south, it showed them that they were not be complacent with the day-to-day lives and it reminded them not to forget about the harsher lives that others were living.

Even though this was only the view of decided on individuals, a lot more people will need to have been required to re-think their attitudes towards either dark or white people, but it will be expressed the ways that photography had a direct impact after the views of world and so the movements itself. The actual fact that white photography lovers were acquiring these images might have been seen and considered bravery to a lot of the white population, as many would have noticed inferior towards dark-colored people, as up until this time black and white People in the usa wouldn't normally have mixed. All of the images that were used by the photojournalists could have brought on an empathetic response. It has been argued that the images produced all acquired a purpose, '. . . Surely, the images were not taken as to provide the historian, to response to its expectancies. The professional photographers acquired their own preoccupations as well as their intended messages. ' They may be accessed by many and thus it depended on who was taking the picture in regards to what message they were trying to convey, and also to what audience these were trying to target.

However, the goal of the images would have depended upon whom the picture was used by. Many photography enthusiasts were actively working at this time; however their goal was for his or her own art work alternatively than to be utilized to help create change. This may have been different for photojournalists as much believed in the cause in which these were documenting, and were not merely driven by the money that they might earn. Gordon Parks (1912-2006) was a guy of many talents as well as being a photojournalist he was also a copy writer and movie director amongst other activities. He was infact the first BLACK staff photographer for Life (1948 - 72), however he started out his photography job by doing work for the Farm Security Administration, in 1942, but began his quest as a fashion photographer. He was motivated by his difficult upbringing and challenges to make it as a photographer in America. Because of this he wished to do what he could to help promote a big change in the us. '"I didn't value Life newspaper. I cared about individuals. " However, it could be argued that Graeme Shulke was money motivated as he received an incredible role in documenting the times of Martin Luther Ruler, he was his personal photographer. King knew that opportunity would boost his career potential clients in the future but it could also benefit King for visitors to get an understanding into his world. Whereas Bob Adelman felt strongly about the motion and wished to help to make a stand, even while a white man, '"Well, I needed a strong sense about documenting it, and I hoped by photographing it I would help change it out. If people noticed what was occurring they wouldn't acknowledge it any more. "'

The marriage between photojournalism and population was so significant, nonetheless it was not only photography experienced an impact after society's attitudes to the activity. This extra understanding of it was strengthened by other types of medias also. 'Newspaper publishers, television, newspapers, and radio reinforce, confirm, and sometimes recast each other's studies. ' One of the most well known incidents could have been Martin Luther King's, 'I Have A Fantasy' speech, was definitely one of the that was included in all medias. All types of mediums possible covered this important time in American history; it could be argued that they all contributed towards passing of the civil rights act, and not just photography alone. On the other hand, more importantly the text that supported the photographs finally enhanced the impact of them. As the image drew individuals' eyes towards the page, whereby the audience would have been intrigued to determine more about the storyline, the written text that followed performed this, it provided the main tale behind the images and put them into framework. The text consolidated what could already be seen in the images. In the 1950s and 1960s papers and publications were the key medium for finding out information and professional photographers such as Flip Schulke understood this and used this to their advantage. Even though the attractiveness of newspapers had fallen they were still extremely accessible, accessible and read. They were the main way of learning about reports daily, 'In 1909 there have been 689 cities in america that had contending daily magazines; by 1963 that quantity had shrunk to 55. '

Chapter 2-What the images positively did.

The impact of the images shown in magazines is usually instant and it was their purpose to transfer pictorial information as quickly and effectively as you can. 'Photos have a swifter and more succinct impact than words, a direct effect that is instantaneous, visceral, and intense. . . A recently available book of the power of images argues that a good area of the faith in representation will depend on " the felt effectiveness. . . of the exactly real life, "

Another positive impact of photojournalism was that it helped modern culture to see first-hand the violent racism that was occurring in their own country. The general public could no longer dismiss this, as images were beginning to appear in every paper and journal. The brutality and racist activities were out in the open for everybody to see. Goldberg recognized that 'The images offered this abstraction a visual image, which was better to hate than a concept. ' Because before these images became open public, it was easy for folks to distance themselves from the realities of that which was occurring around them. For many people, reading newspapers was not a regular behavior. However, to see images of racial hatred and assault splashed across the pages of newspaper publishers and magazines will need to have made these folks need it newspapers purely due to the attraction and note delivered by these images, whether or not the audience was a supporter of or a fighter up against the injustices they could see in these magazines and journals. These images were also allocated into white as well as black neighbourhoods. For the black neighborhoods in the South it was something that they all recognized too well, some could have witnessed a few of these events, whereas for many in the white and dark areas in the North East were generally protected and therefore were disturbed and surprised also. Many would have felt appalled that people could be cured in this way, it was no longer an issue that may be kept a secret. Martin Luther King Jr. experienced a good romantic relationship with Flip Schulke, growing into a a friendly relationship they realised that they both may help each other. King knew the importance of documenting the have difficulties for independence as well as Schulke, who recognized that he could achieve success by taking powerful and motivating images of Ruler in support of his have difficulties for freedom. Through the years that they functioned alongside one another, Schulke was mostly of the photographers who needed photographs of King at those times when he relished those quieter more personal moments in the personal privacy of his own home as well as those more open public times whilst on his campaign trail. These photos of the more private times also dished up to show individuals who Martin Luther King Jr. was an ordinary man, just like every other.

'Many Americans wrote characters to the newspaper publishers about how exactly appalled they were to see dogs attacking innocent people. ' This supports the idea that lots of Americans believed empathy towards the individuals who they found in the images, and thus noticed helpless to do anything and probably wanted to actively do something to help change their situation. "'I wish to condition my disgust and aggravation with your editorial plans. You might conclude from your coverage of racial tension that you have significantly more interest in delivering disgrace to the South than in truly enhancing the plight of the Negro. '" This is only one public opinion that was printed in Life Magazine in 1963, in response to the images taken by Charles Moore in a feature from the prior months' release of Life Magazine. This took the theory that many the newspapers were not doing enough to help those victims of racism but simply just highlighted the problem. Despite the fact that Grady Franklin congratulated Life Magazine in their attempts to emphasize in the problem on June 7 1963. 'Charles Moore's images on the racial troubles in Birmingham were superb and bone-chilling. . . '

On the other palm it was stated that 'Within forty-eight time of the front-page publication of the lunging-dog photo, money began to pour in to the Southern Christian Control Discussion (SCLC), with which Ruler was affiliated. ' This therefore revealed that folks were affected by the images they saw and probably began to become interested in the cause and the violent situations the liberty fighters found themselves in and wished to give what that they had to help those that they didn't know individually but experienced a connection with through images portrayed.

'"I understand of nothing which has more keened the American visitors to the moral implications of the struggle called the have difficulties for civil privileges, than the photos which the American press and magazines have shown of actual occasions on the southern entry. . . It is only because pictures backed up what, no subject how authoritative, that [this justice] has been acknowledged. " Javits presumed that the Senate, for the first time in its history, would soon vote to end a filibuster on a civil-rights bill-as indeed it have, partly in response to the impact made on voters by such images. '

It also came to the interest of the North american Government that these images were having a poor effect on the international community. 'Because of the international negative reaction to these photographs, many in the American federal realized they might have to support the Civil Rights Movement, for People in america could not help freedom fighters in other areas of the world while overlooking those who had been seeking it in their own country. ' The uprisings and riots acquired become recognised throughout the world, at the same time when America was regarded as a superpower this bad coverage was unconstructive and damaging to their reputation. 'Reports and photos of Birmingham received comprehensive coverage in another country. The pet dogs and firehoses were seen and condemned from Britain to France to Russia, Asia and Africa. ' President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) had been attacked by Western governments for the way that folks in his country were being cared for. He realised the harm these images were doing to his country and had to do anything he could to try and put an end to the subjection. JF Kennedy was advised to go away the Civil Privileges Act. 'Information from Birmingham had not only pressed Kennedy to adopt the lead, they had convinced many people and elected representatives that the government should intervene. '

The impact of the images helped to get support for the cause. It exposed the severity of the problem, that could not be overlooked. This support would not have been so great if the images were not sent out across America. 'The get spread around of the images throughout the nation was critical for the movement's success. . . ' In some instances many thought that the violence that they were seeing could not possibly be going on in the us.

(Blacks were able to have a stand it encouraged them to do this. ) 'Over another couple if years, more ambitious and activist market leaders than king changed in, "black power" became the cry, and peaceful marches shared the news with explosive riots. '


In response to the question, 'What was the impact of photojournalism in the civil rights movement?' in answering this question it holds true to state that the hypothesis, 'Photojournalism acquired a positive effect on the civil rights movement, was proven to be correct. The photojournalism that surrounded enough time of the civil rights movement experienced a great impact after the civil rights motion. It helped to change conflicting ideas about dark people in general, using this method it also highlighted the issues that the dark-colored community were facing which were once again shown in these images. The photos that were taken aided the motion, as these were in a position to give visible imagery to people who had only heard about the scope of the problem. The distribution of these images was important with their impact as they confirmed the extend of the issues to the ones that were not living in the south. The images were also shown worldwide which put strain on the American government to improve just how that their country had been viewed from outside of america of America. These were also extremely powerful, which was almost certainly deliberate to get an emotional response from the audience to help change or effect their minds on the thoughts about the black community and the problems they were confronted with. By doing this is helped others to broaden their understanding of the situation by highlighting the issues through picture taking.

The great impact of the picture taking fuelled protests and rallies, it determined people to bring about a change that they knew was over due.

Incidently the most effective images were thus determined from many to be printed in such mags and newspaper publishers, even though this was a terrible time, the amount of images that confirmed peaceful protests and rallies, and dark and white citizens peacefully blended were sparse in comparison to other images which revealed conflict and violence. Despite the fact that these images were broadly produced, the majority of these images weren't shown in the multimedia, read or observed predominantly with a white audience, but were for black people when they already realized the scope of the prejudice as these were living through it every day, therefore reinforcing the view that a life of inequality and prejudice was their great deal. However it is naive to say that it was photojournalism alone that helped blacks to get the vote and increase the public's knowledge and understanding of the movement. Other styles of mass media such as television, radio, and written books also participated in broadening understanding and knowledge as well as the wearing down of obstacles of segregation and prejudice towards dark-colored people. Martin Luther King played a vital role in this also, he recognized the power of photography and the mass media in general, and if it was used properly it could help bring about change.

It would be untrue to say that photojournalism at the moment did not impact on the Civil Privileges Motion, as it was one of the most documented durations in American History. However, it was not merely photographs exclusively that helped to bring about this change in American culture. It was also aided by specific individuals who helped play a major role in the plan, John F Kennedy in addition Martin Luther Ruler Jr. 's whose charismatic leadership skills, as well as his understanding of the value of photographic image at this time captivate the general public interest.


Library of Congress (2010) Images of 20th Century DARK-COLORED Activists: A Select List, Kaulins, J. (1956) Rosa Parks. [Online]. Offered by: http://www. loc. gov/rr/print/list/083_afr. html#ParksR Time Accessed: (10/2/10).

Moore, C (Photographer) (17 May 1963) They Battle A Fire that will not Go Out, Life Newspaper, 54(20), Pp. 26-41

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