BRINGING THE AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT FORWARD
by Amy Farber
In 1991, as an undergraduate concentrator in Government and African-American Studies, I set out to understand racism and issues of social justice in the Southern cities where major Civil Rights confrontations of the 1950s and 1960s took place. I was inspired by visiting professor Julian Bond, ethnologist Zora Neale Hurston, the imagery of photographer Charles Moore, narrative histories complied by Taylor Branch, and my fellow students.
Although I was catalyzed by the social activism of past generations, I was concerned that knowledge of history alone failed to provide clear insight into how members of my generation could move towards greater interconnectedness, purpose and direction in addressing issues of race, class and gender-based discrimination. I was interested in bringing personal, institutional and political histories forward by creating a dialogue between generations.
I went South to learn firsthand from people who were active as foot soldiers, students and leaders in the 1950s and 1960s. Conversations with those who were student activists, leaders and public officials during the Civil Rights Movement focused on challenges facing my generation. Conversations with my contemporaries living in cities in which landmark Civil Rights Movement confrontations took place explored the relevance of that movement to their late twentieth-century lives.
The framed photographs in STANDING document the shadows of the Civil Rights Movement, which were still present in the “new” South and they contemplate how people and places have fared during the intervening years. These images were taken during 456 hours of travel in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
The audio component of this work (coming soon) consists of recorded interviews organized by the themes that emerged during conversations: racism, history, poverty, education, family, religion, health, crime, freedom, democracy and political identity. I am incredibly grateful to Nancy Murray, Becky Branting and others for making this body of work available on the Internet.
The framed photographs were a gift to Northeastern University School of Law in Boston and are available for travel/lending. This project would not have been possible but for the willingness of individuals to share their stories and to be photographed. I am indebted to those who generously shared their stories and ideas as well as those whose images are depicted as part of this archive. For more information, please write to afarber@LAMtreatmentAlliance.org (http://www.LAMtreatmentAlliance.org).
Amy Farber 2006
STANDING, first exhibited at Harvard University in 1992, was a non-credit independent audio-visual project supervised by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at Harvard University and Professor Leon Litwack at University of California at Berkeley. The project was funded by grants from The Ford Foundation, the President of Radcliffe College, the Du Bois Institute for African American Research, the Harvard Foundation for Race Relations, Harvard’s African American Studies Department and Harvard’s Undergraduate Council.