FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE
VISUAL CULTURE AND THE STRUGGLE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS
Maurice Berger; Foreword by Thulani Davis
In 1955, shortly after Emmett Till was murdered by white supremacists in Mississippi, his grieving mother distributed to the press a gruesome photograph of his mutilated corpse. Asked why she would do this, she explained that by witnessing with their own eyes the brutality of segregation and racism, Americans would be more likely to support the cause of racial justice. ‘Let the world see what I’ve seen,” was her reply. The publication of the photograph inspired a generation of activists to join the civil rights movement.
Despite this extraordinary episode, the story of visual culture’s role in the modern civil rights movement is rarely included in its history. This is the first comprehensive examination of the ways images mattered in the struggle, and it investigates a broad range of media including photography, television, film, magazines, newspapers, and advertising.
These images were ever present and diverse: the startling footage of southern white aggression and black suffering that appeared night after night on television news programs; the photographs of black achievers and martyrs in Negro periodicals; the humble snapshot, no less powerful in its ability to edify and motivate. In each case, the war against racism was waged through pictures. Through vivid storytelling and incisive analysis, this powerful book allows us to see and understand the crucial role that visual culture played in forever changing a nation.
Maurice Berger is Research Professor and Chief Curator at the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He is the author of the critically acclaimed White Lies: Race and the Myths of Whiteness, which was named as a finalist for the 2000 Horace Mann Bond Book Award. He writes the month Race Stories essay series for the Lens Blog of the New York Times, which received the 2014 Arts Writing Grant from Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation. He is the curator and project director of For All the World to See.
Praise for For All the World To See
“Even ‘unforgettable’ images such as those contained in this project can be forgotten if they are not part of a public and highly visible record. With this tremendously important book, Maurice Berger has ensured that these powerful, affirming, and harrowing images will remain central to the story of this country’s furious and joyful struggle for civil rights.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University
“This vital and important work . . . takes us on a journey through the development of both the narrow field of African American icons and the broadly influential legacy of blackface and other stereotypical imagery. Berger’s text and a superb collection of images spanning the second half of the twentieth century gives us a guide to visual literacy in African American representation.”—Thulani Davis, from the Foreword
“Stunning both visually and interpretively, this marvelous book is by turns chilling and inspiring, poignant and gritty. The images it chooses and juxtaposes will introduce young people to worlds of struggle too little recalled and remind us all of the stakes involved in images of race and freedom.”—David Roediger, author ofHow Race Survived U.S. History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon
For All the World to See
Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights
Yale University Press
224 p., 8 x 10
53 b&w and 37 color illus.