Library of Congress Acquires Massive Archive of Iconic Civil Rights Photos by Bob Adelman

The Library of Congress recently acquired the archives of civil rights photographer Bob Adelman. An anonymous donor gifted the collection, an archive that contains some of the most outstanding images ever captured of the Civil Rights Movement.

The LoC received 575,000 images in all, including 50,000 prints and hundreds of thousands of negatives and slides that will now be added to the Library’s collection of over 16 million photographs, drawings, and prints that span a piece of history from the 15th century to the present day.

Photographer/documentarian Bob Adelman during the Selma to Montgomery march. 1965.

Adelman (1930-2016) was born in New York City, and made his name photographing many of the most important leaders and events of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

He stood mere feet from Dr. King as he delivered his “I have a dream” speech, and documented everything from lunch counter protests, to police attacks with dogs and fire hoses against protesters in Birmingham, to the 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery.

Here’s just a small selection of some of his best-known Civil Rights imagery:

The Dreamer dreams: King ends his speech with the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” Washington, D.C. 1963
MLK_Funeral_052-10 001
Reverend Carter, expecting a visit from the Klan after he has dared to register to vote, stands guard on his front porch, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. 1964.

“After Reverend Carter had registered to vote, that night vigilant neighbors scattered in the woods near his farmhouse, which was at the end of a long dirt road, to help him if trouble arrived. ‘If they want a fight, we’ll fight,’ Joe Carter told me. ‘If I have to die, I’d rather die for right.’ “He told me, ‘I value my life more since I became a registered voter. A man is not a first-class citizen, a number one citizen, unless he is a voter.’ After Election Day came and went, Reverend Carter added, ‘I thanked the Lord that he let me live long enough to vote.’”

Honored guest, Rosa Parks, heroin of the Movement, awaits the opening remarks. Washington D.C. Augist 28, 1963
First Women’s Lib march on 5th ave, New York City. August, 1970
John Lewis chairman of SNCC arrises to address the March. All of 22 at the time he had just returned from having his militant speach severly edited by his elders.
No man is an island, Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, Alabama. 1963.

“The police and firemen used a brute show of force to try to stop the ongoing demonstrations. It didn’t work on this day. Rather than fleeing, the protestors hung on to each other and were able to stand up to the full fury of the water, though not without casualties. I have never witnessed such cruelty. There was almost as much moisture behind the lens as in front. I gave a print of this picture to Dr. King. He studied it and said, ‘I am startled that out of so much pain some beauty came.” – Bob Adelman

Adelman studied law at Harvard and philosophy at Columbia before becoming a photographer. “When I photographed, I was intent on telling the truth as best I saw it and then to help in doing something about it,” he once said. “It was a constant effort not only to document in as honest a way as I could, and to make what I was seeing vivid, but to figure out how to change things.”

The great photographer died tragically almost a year ago at the age of 85. His mentor, Ralph Ellison, once said, “Adelman has moved beyond the familiar clichés of most documentary photography into that rare sphere wherein technical ability and social vision combine to create a work of art.”

Unfortunately, it was not announced when this massive archive of Adelman’s work would be made available to the public, but we’ll be keeping an eye on the LoC’s archives moving forward, and you should too.

(via PDN)

Image credits: All photographs provided by the Library of Congress and used with permission.

Source link