NPR logo 'Black In White America:' Revisiting A 1960s Photo Essay

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'Black In White America:' Revisiting A 1960s Photo Essay

More than 40 years after the original publication date, The J. Paul Getty Museum has reissued Black In White America, a book by photojournalist Leonard Freed. The release corresponds with a new exhibition opening later this month; "Engaged Observers: Documentary Photography Since The Sixties" showcases the work of nine renowned photographers.

In the 1960s, Freed traveled the country providing in-depth coverage of America's race issues. But, rather than gravitating to violent outbursts and moments of tension, Freed photographed weddings and football practices and church services. Curator Brett Abbott explains in the book's foreward that Freed "found that his interests lay not in recording the progress of the civil rights movement per se but in exploring the diverse, everyday lives of a community that had been marginalized for so long."

The photographs are accompanied by Freed's diary-like text. And while many of the photos lack captions, that doesn't seem to matter. Freed was less interested in each individual instance, and more concerned with capturing the essence of an issue and a culture — a time and place. Somehow, even 40 years later, the photos still feel relevant.

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