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Art and Architecture: This Is the Day: The March on Washington - Michael Eric Dyson, Paul Farber, Eli Reed, Jamel Shabazz, Deborah Willis and Brigitte Freed

June 5, 2013

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FREE - Auditorium doors open at 5:30 p.m.

 The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).Reproduced in This Is the Day: The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).

Leonard Freed’s images of the march were made during the midst of the civil rights movement, when racial inequities were most painfully exposed to the nation and the world. He was among a select group of photojournalists who used their cameras to document the movement because of a passionate desire to understand, and shed light on the complex issues surrounding racism in America. Freed’s photographs and those of his colleagues are a part of our nation’s collective cultural memory. They elicit powerful responses that remind us, as Americans, of what we have achieved, and also how much work still remains to be done.

This illustrious panel discusses the role photography played during the civil rights movement, the photographic legacy of the march, and how image makers such as Freed have influenced a new generation of photojournalists who continue to use their cameras to raise awareness of social injustices. Special guest Brigitte Freed, widow of Leonard Freed also joins the discussion.

 The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).Reproduced in This Is the Day: The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).

On August 28, 1963 more than 250,000 people gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to mount a peaceful protest demanding equal rights and economic equality for African Americans. Led by civil rights organizations, The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and became the iconic expression of social protest that inspired the women’s rights movement, and other disenfranchised groups. This Is the Day: The March on Washington (Getty Publications 2013) presents Magnum photographer Leonard Freed’s visual testimony of the event that culminated in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s prophetic “I Have a Dream” speech. The photographs were chosen from hundreds Freed made in the nation's capital that day—before, during, and after the march. They present wide-angle views of marchers overflowing the National Mall, group portraits of people straining to see the speakers, and close-ups of individual faces filled with hope and yearning. Accompanying them are an account of the preparations leading up to the march by civil rights activist and author Julian Bond; an introduction to the march by sociology professor and author Michael Eric Dyson; and a discussion of Freed's approach to the project by scholar Paul Farber.

Copies of the book are available for purchase and signing at the event after the audience Q&A.

 The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).Reproduced in This Is the Day: The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).

Michael Eric Dyson, named by Ebony as one of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans, is a widely published writer, media commentator, and professor of sociology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He is the author of sixteen books, including April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Death and How It Changed America; Holler if You Hear Me, Is Bill Cosby Right? and I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr.

Paul M. Farber is a scholar, currently completing his doctorate in American culture at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an instructor in urban studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Farber worked with the Freed estate and Getty Publications to produce This Is the Day: The March on Washington, commemorating the upcoming 50th anniversary of the march, and contributed the afterword to the book. Farber's essays on culture have previously appeared in Vibe and Criticism, and on National Public Radio. He was recently included on Dell's inaugural #Inspire 100 list, a group of "world changers" who use technology to empower social change.

 The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).Reproduced in This Is the Day: The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).

Brigitte Freed is the widow of the photographer Leonard Freed. She accompanied her late husband on many photography assignments, including to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963. After Leonard’s death in 2006 she was inspired to compile a book on the March on Washington from her late husband’s archive after hearing then-Senator Barack Obama remark to an audience of civil rights activists, “I stand here because you walked.” She played an instrumental role in the selection and sequencing of the images for This Is the Day.

Eli Reed was born in the United States and graduated from the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts in1969. In 1982 he was named Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, and in 1988 he became a full member of Magnum. Reed has documented African American experience for more than twenty years. He photographed the effects of poverty on America's children for the documentary Poorest in the Land of Plenty, and his documentary Getting Out was shown at the New York Film Festival in 1993. Reed's special reports include a long-term study on Beirut (1983–87), which was published as a book, titled Beirut, City of Regrets; and his report on the ousting of Baby Doc Duvalier in Haiti (1986). His book Black in America includes images from the Crown Heights riots and the Million Man March. Reed has taught at the International Center of Photography, Columbia University, New York University, and Harvard.

 The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).Reproduced in This Is the Day: The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).

Jamel Shabazz was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. At age fifteen he picked up his first camera and started to document his peers. He includes photographers Leonard Freed, James Van Der Zee, and Gordon Parks as sources of inspiration. Shabazz has produced five monographs of his work and has had solo exhibitions around the world. He also worked as a teaching artist with the Bronx Museum–based Teen Council and the International Center of Photography, among other institutions. His books include A Time Before Crack, The Last Sunday in June, and Back in the Days. His photographs have appeared in publications including The Source, Vibe, TRACE, Flaunt, Mass Appeal, Jalouse, and Black Book. An exhibition of his work, titled Represent: Photographs from 1980 to 2012, was held at the Brooklyn Public Library in 2012.

 The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).Reproduced in This Is the Day: The March on Washington. © Estate of Leonard Freed – Magnum Photos (Brigitte Freed).

Dr. Deborah Willis, named among the 100 Most Important People in Photography by American Photo, is Chair and Professor of Photography and Imaging at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, where she also has an affiliated appointment with the College of Arts and Sciences, Africana Studies. A 2005 Guggenheim and Fletcher Fellow, a 2000 MacArthur Fellow, a 1996 Recipient of the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation Award, and now an artist, she is one of the nation's leading historians of African American photography and a curator of African American culture. Her recent publications include Envisioning Emancipation and the End of Slavery; Black Venus 2010: They Called Her "Hottentot"Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present; and Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs (NAACP Image Award, Literature Winner).

This event is organized in collaboration with Arezoo Moseni.