Maurice Berger for The NYT: Gordon Parks’s portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Thornton Sr., an older black couple in their Mobile, Ala., home in 1956, appears to have little in common with the images we have come to associate with civil rights photography.


It is in color, unlike most photographs of the movement. Its subject matter was neither newsworthy nor historic, unlike more widely published journalistic images of the racial murders, police brutality, demonstrations and boycotts that characterized the epic battle for racial justice and equality.


Yet, as effectively as any civil rights photograph, the portrait was a forceful “weapon of choice,” as Mr. Parks would say, in the struggle against racism and segregation. He took the picture on assignment for a September 1956 Life magazine photo-essay, “The Restraints: Open and Hidden,” which documented the everyday activities and rituals of one extended black family living in the rural South under Jim Crow segregation.


While 20 photographs were eventually published in Life, the bulk of Mr. Parks’s work from that shoot was thought to have been lost. That is, until this spring, when the Gordon Parks Foundation discovered more than 70 color transparencies at the bottom of an old storage box, wrapped in paper and masking tape and marked, “Segregation Series.” READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE!


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Anacostia, D.C. Frederick Douglass housing project. A dance group 1942.

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