One Year Before His Murder.
Photographer Unknown, 1954.
(All Images Courtesy of Center For Art, Design,
And Visual Culture-UMBC.)
"I couldn’t bear the thought of people being horrified by the sight of my son. But on the other hand, I felt the alternative was even worse. After all, we had averted our eyes for far too long, turning away from the ugly reality facing us as a nation. Let the world see what I’ve seen."
-Mamie Till Bradley, September 1955
Danny Lyon (photographer)
Documentary of a Struggle for Equality, 1964.
Simon & Schuster, New York
I Am a Man, 1968.
Offset lithograph on paper
Postcard Published By An Anonymous
White Supremacist Group
Confused and frightened by her tirade that night, I excused myself. As I walked down the hall to the bedroom I shared with my sister, I heard my father sobbing... He was crying so hard he was unable to speak. His behavior frightened me even more than my mother's. I was nearly twelve years old, and I had never seen my father cry. Tears rolled down his face as his finger pointed to the radio, which blared updates on the assassination. "What a nightmare," he finally muttered. I lay down next to him, put my head on his chest, and remained there for the rest of the evening.
Although I cannot explain the alchemy of it, somehow the attempt of that boy to make sense of his own racially conflicted past infuses For All The World To See. There is nothing personally connected to Berger in the show, but perhaps because American society remains so deeply damaged by racism, his documentation of the struggle against it seems both heartfelt and shockingly intimate. Because we have become so used to tiptoeing around matters of race, reminders of its profound impact on our culture have regained their shock value. We prefer to pretend America today is a colorblind society, but how could that be so given our completely separate and unequal segregated culture only a few short decades ago? The influence of that injustice cannot be erased and forgotten about, nor should it be. We all know what happens to those who cannot remember the past...
Frank Cieciorka (artist)
All Power To The People:
The Story Of The Black Panther Party.
For All The World To See is disturbing, unsettling, and profoundly sad, yet somehow inspiring and hopeful, too. The exhibit shows the worst of America, and the best of America, side by side. Only by exploring and acknowledging both can the United States hope to heal the deep wounds caused by over two centuries of racism. The scars always will remain, as they should. We must be forced to look at them from time to time, to remind us never to inflict such unbearable pain on our nation again.