Portraits of Freedom: An Intimate Photo Exploration of Emancipation

Maga-
zines need love too!
This is how you destroy a heckler. Mention the 13 years of busting your ass. @hannibalburess http://t.co/vXcA2mynO7 http://t.co/oSrf18HdYq
Portraits of Freedom: An Intimate Photo Exploration of Emancipation Portraits of Freedom: An Intimate Photo Exploration of Emancipation
Culture

Portraits of Freedom: An Intimate Photo Exploration of Emancipation

by Yasha Wallin

March 11, 2013

Nursemaid with her charge, Arkansas; Photographer unknown, 1855

Then there’s another series we showcase commissioned by the Swiss born scientist Louis Agassiz, who was on the faculty of Harvard, and traveled to South Carolina with a photographer to make portraits of enslaved Africans and their American born descendants. His goal was to use photography as a tool to document racial difference and to prove that there were different orders of human beings: Africans constituted a different type of human being than Europeans. He had these photographs made to present people as scientific specimens. So we use those images to show the counterpoints of what black photographers and black photographic subjects and others who understood the power of photography to make these political arguments about the nature of humanity, the nature of freedom, of citizenship.

GOOD: After studying these photographs, what can we take away from this and apply to race relations today?

KRAUTHAMER: The real idea that we wanted to convey was of African American involvement in shaping their own lives and communities and to show African Americans as architects of their own history. They were engaged in political debates, fighting for freedom, people who were freeing themselves from slavery—they weren’t just waiting to be emancipated. We also wanted to show a long history of dignity and perseverance—people’s sense of themselves as beautiful, intelligent, and creative.

+
Join the discussion
Recently on GOOD