Exposures of a Movement
<v Speaker 1>And I was just always hoping for a time that that it would not be the way of life. <v Speaker 2>In the eyes of a camera is a just eye, and it demonstrates what justice could be and what injustice is. <v Speaker 3>The individual struggle for rights is really the most important message of these photographers. <v Steve Crump>Dark rooms for the laboratories, bringing their labors to life and the camera. Yes, the camera, one of the many vehicles responsible for change. Hello and welcome to exposures of a movement. The photographers you'll hear from all have ties to the Carolinas. They are linked together by the color of their skin. People in places making headlines at the crossroads of racial conflict. During that time of separate and unequal rights, the men you're about to meet use their craft to inform, educate and inspire a nation.
<v Song>[Unidentified song playing]. <v Steve Crump>Alabama state lines and Mississippi's flash points signal the dawning of a new day in America. Getting through the darkness means struggle, patience and persistence. That was clearly the case across North and South Carolina. It was an era of lunch counter sit ins in North Carolina and years later, below the state line, a series of ugly protests to integrate a bowling alley led to the deaths of Samuel Hammond, Henry Smith, And Delano Middleton. All South Carolina State College students. It would be remembered as the Orangeburg Massacre. From that period, moving images help tell the story, but the headlines, articles and photographs found in many African-American owned and operated newspapers made lasting impressions after the nightly newscast faded to black. While seeing the living examples of blatant racism and feeling the wrath of Jim Crow's rule, some fought back with pictures displaying graphic accounts impacting public opinion and government policy. Durham's Alex Rivera may maybe the dean of African-American photographers in North Carolina.
<v Alex Rivera>The Black newspapers in those days was a protest ?inaudible? and we felt that we were were instrumental in bringing about the end of segregation. <v Song>[Performance of "He's Got The Whole World in His Hands"] <v Steve Crump>Her voice was known to millions. On Easter Sunday, 1939, the world listened on radio and 75000 showed up to witness the historic occasion. As a student at Howard University, Rivera captured Marian Anderson on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The concert happened here because of a scheduling flap with the Daughters of the American Revolution over the use of nearby Constitution Hall. <v Alex Rivera>So rather than be off somewhere wandering around. I was right where they the television cameras were. And so I got perfect shots of her pictures.
<v Steve Crump>A decade later, in 1948, Rivera clicked away as Blacks voted in South Carolina's capital city for the first time following reconstruction. The photo journalist was the southeastern correspondent for the Pittsburgh Courier from 1946 to 1974. Oftentimes, he focused on public places where segregation was clearly the law. <v Alex Rivera>It was legal. And a lot of white people would say, you know, I don't like the law and they would hide behind the fact that it was the law. <v Steve Crump>Thurgood Marshall was the first man of color named to the U.S. Supreme Court as the civil rights attorney. He was known for his efforts of Brown vs. the Board of Education. He also argued cases for school integration in South Carolina. A number of his visits were shot by Rivera and others got caught on film by Cecil Williams of Orangeburg, South Carolina. He freelanced for Jet magazine, the Afro-American and the Pittsburgh Courier newspapers, just to name a few.
<v Cecil Williams>It was my way of making a living. I earned a commission or earned a fee from the news media that I covered them for. <v Steve Crump>Williams first camera came as a gift at the age of nine under the tutelage of the late E.C. Jones. At 16, he became the official photographer for the South Carolina NAACP. <v Ernest Hollings>I was the chief of my law enforcement division and from the presidents of both colleges that we will not tolerate any such pilgrimage, assemblage, or demonstration at the state capitol building or anywhere else in South Carolina. While initially the incidents were confined in student movement, we now have definite proof that outside selfish antagonist groups are taking over. Secondly, we also know that regardless of intent, there can be no point to any further incidents or demonstrations other than to breach the peace and cause violence. This we will not tolerate.
<v Cecil Williams>As I grew older, I realized that I was covering part of a revolution. A very important revolution was taking place in America and something that needed to be recorded and whether there was a financial reward at all involved at all. Nevertheless, I covered it. <v Steve Crump>It's been a career spanning more than four decades. He continues to cover civil rights issues and figures of the 90s. <v Count Jackson>Let's try it again. All right. Look right here. Now, look right here. <v Steve Crump>In better times and in better health count. Count Jackson was a studio and society photographer in Atlanta. He now works from a wheelchair <v Count Jackson>and old time for them. There was always hustlers in our neighborhood. Some of them hustle wood and coal and all of that. I hustle photography. <v Steve Crump>Partly retired and in no ways finished, Jackson has chosen to live and shoot part time and try to fix. And you'll learn later one of his most precious images there bare the sorrow of a grieving nation. Traditional photography, such as shooting weddings, was always the mainstay of many African-American freelancers and stringers. Charlotte's James Peeler said the challenge of a news assignment from a Black publication was hard to turn down.
<v James Peeler>I've been much of a freelance person, and I like photography and I like doing the best job I can at it. <v Steve Crump>They often play the role of participant, observer and historian. <v George Shinhoster>These were guys that were that were still way out ahead of themselves. You'd find guys that would died, water hoses, dogs, bullets. And they were very similar to being a war correspondent, if you will. <v Jack Claiborne>But when you saw the film and the photography that was made by the Black photographers who were had access to the Black community, and you understood that these were real people and suddenly the whole story got a humanitarian point of view that was missing. <v Dr. Thomas Battle>I think they felt a very strong responsibility to record and to accurately record what was going on in these communities because they were wise not going to be recorded, they were going to remain or to go undocumented, and I think that in order to balance the historical record of Black journalists and fellow journalists felt a responsibility to show the other side, to show the side that wasn't being shown. That's the side that was going to be ignored.
<v Steve Crump>In 1969, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference took to the streets during the Charleston hospital workers strike. The event brought some of the movement's best known personalities to South Carolina. Among them, Andrew Young. <v Andrew Young>It was Black photographers that moved into the crowd and actually showed graphically what was going on, Black photographers quite often, particularly those that were shooting for Jet and Ebony, were with us in the churches. They were in our homes when there was tragedy. <v Steve Crump>One North Carolina historian says the humanity is easy to detect in the pictures since some of those behind the camera walk many miles in the shoes of their subjects. <v David Goldfield>So what these individuals did was place the Black individual front and center and demonstrate it to the public that these individuals had emotions. They had feelings. The most important, they had rights.
<v Newsreel>Rabat, Morocco, is the first stop on vice president and Mrs. Richard Nixon's 22 day goodwill mission to eight African nations, and the-. <v Steve Crump>Newsreels in 1957 brought the story to the states. Alex Rivera was in the press corps covering Vice President Nixon's visit to Africa <v Alex Rivera>But we came back to Ethiopia and we were in Haile Selassie's palace. And of course, this was was quite exciting and gratifying to me that he was in and in the palace of of a ruler, a king. <v Steve Crump>The photographer and man who would one day become president at times shared lighthearted conversation. <v Alex Rivera>We became good friends. And I don't know what we were talking about there. It looked like we were having some serious he wasn't taken so seriously. He was smiling. <v Steve Crump>Perhaps the most thrilling moment on that trip came when African leaders in Ghana established the continent's first independent country. Rivera told the story of international importance with pictures and words.
<v Alex Rivera>Just to see the Black country take over from Great Britain. It was, it was an experience that I'll just never forget. <v John F. Kennedy>We have a right to expect that the Negro community to be responsible will uphold the law, but they have a right to expect the law will be fair. <v Steve Crump>While in office, he was called an ally of the civil rights movement. <v Cecil Williams>I had correspondence from Kennedy. I had telephone calls with him. I visited the White House and it was a great relationship. Sometimes I found myself just automatically in a situation. Other times I would place myself there intentionally. <v Steve Crump>Cecil Williams did just that, covering the announcement that Senator John F. Kennedy would make a run for the White House. <v Cecil Williams>And I was about to be bounced from press conference, having no press credentials or anything else. And maybe simply because I wasn't African-American, even though this was in New York. And just as I was about to be bounced, John F. Kennedy stopped the two men that were about to bounce me. And not only did he order them to allow me to stay, but he sat me down and asked that I be seated, really, by two of the widely known correspondents of that time, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.
<v Steve Crump>He also made it to JFK's campaign, visiting Columbia that same year. Through William's eyes, people saw the progressive presidential candidate, along with the former South Carolina governor who openly criticized protesters. <v Song>[Unidentified song]. <v Steve Crump>1960 was a time of peaceful demonstrations. That year, Greensboro became the birthplace of North Carolina's Sit-In movement, and what started at the Woolworth's lunch counter spread rapidly to other parts of the state. <v Jack Claiborne>I remember the protests here in Charlotte were like a lark. Charles Jones and the students that Johnson C. Smith, who came downtown, came singing. <v Charles Jones>We looked for African-American photographers and reporters. It was the only person we could trust. And in many cases, if not most, without the accurate story or any story getting out, we would be totally at the mercy of local folks who certainly didn't care much about us.
<v Steve Crump>A much younger Charles Jones learned to trust photographer James Peeler, who covered Charlotte's sit ins for the Baltimore based Afro-American. <v James Peeler>And I started ?inaudible? the camera, Crown Graphic, a really big camera, you know, and there couldn't no way to hide it and I didn't have any idea I'd have to hide it in anyway. When I got to the door, two policemen there told me I couldn't come in. <v Charles Jones>I was looking for him because I knew Peeler would get the story. I knew people would risk whatever was necessary and we would always let him know as much as we could in advance. <v James Peeler>I kind of skewed the camera and snuck around and got a few shots, you know, sent to the Baltimore-. <v Interviewer>Afro-American. <v James Peeler>Afro-American to Baltimore. <v Charles Jones>I knew what he was doing to try to get to the right place and all of a sudden he'd pop up boom, boom, boom and smile and then kind of ease on out of the way. <v Steve Crump>Charlotte's lunch counters became front page photos.
<v Harvey Gantt>?inaudible? got a sports coat on still probably could be in style today. Oh, my goodness, I'm Quincy Newman. This guy was an icon in the civil rights movement in South Carolina back in the years. And folks have often asked me where I got that hat. I don't even remember where I bought it. But it's probably somewhere like Mike, Sam and Jackson place in Charlotte, Charleston where I grew. <v Steve Crump>When former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt crossed the color line at Clemson University, Cecil Williams covered the three year court battle and the first day of registration. <v Cecil Williams>I remember the that being a very, very cold day in February when we arrived on the Clemson campus. <v Newsreel>Harvey Gantt stepped from the car, surrounded by reporters and photographers from all over the country. <v Harvey Gantt>And Cecil loved photography. I think he had a sense of the moment of what was going on. The he had the ability also to get often into places that maybe back in those days other photographers didn't want him.
<v Steve Crump>On Gantt's first day in 1963, Williams worked alongside with the other journalists, but seized the opportunity, breaking away from the pack to grab a different angle. <v Cecil Williams>I think as we go forward into the future, this picture will be looked like, looked at with a lot of curiosity was it would be almost as if a man from another planet would be or alien from another planet had arrived on Earth and was doing so for the first time, where it's simply an African-American who happens to be the first of his race to really go to a college. <v Steve Crump>Over time, they all took pictures of this man revered as a doer and a dreamer. But on an April day in 1968, one of Count Jackson's precious moments stirred the soul of a grieving nation. <v Count Jackson>It was it was some kind of day. It was a day like no other day ever in the history of Atlanta. <v Andrew Young>I have a number of pictures of my family that counted Jackson took. And though I don't like the picture because it's a picture of Martin Luther King being drawn on the mule train to his grave. Yeah, but it's still one of the most accurate historical records of that period.
<v Count Jackson>As the mules was pulling the wagon, just kept shooting. I kept shooting. <v Steve Crump>And you knew that that was a historic moment? <v Count Jackson>I knew that. I knew that. I knew that. <v George Shinhoster>But as you capture history, sometimes you don't stage it. <v Steve Crump>Former Southern Christian Leadership Conference worker and current North Carolina business executive George Shinholster was there that day. <v George Shinhoster>This picture. You can just look at the involvement of the variety of people that come from all over the place just to pay homage at that point in time to Martin Luther King. <v Steve Crump>On many assignments their shots were snapped in harm's way. <v Alex Rivera>We were arrested and harassed. I was never I was never beaten. I was just threatened. But these are some of the things that you that you expect and you just just pray for the best. <v Andrew Young>There were numbers of photographers that got beaten up, their films confiscated, their cameras crushed. And it wasn't easy being a photographer.
<v Count Jackson>But the Black photographer was right there. And all times spotlighted himself. Well, part of the beating in the shove and the kick and having his equipment torn up, destroyed. Yeah, nobody to report it to. <v Steve Crump>Nobody would listen. <v Count Jackson>Oh, no. <v Cecil Williams>It's I remember very distinctly in the very beginning of the 1968 Orangeburg so-called Orangeburg Massacre. On the first night the students went to the bowling alley, there was a glass broken and the demonstrators started to recede and started running and police officers started running behind them. And of course, as everyone was coming in my direction, even though I had a camera around my neck and I was photographing all of this, I too began running and police officers were, of course, swinging. And had I stopped, I would have been hit just as well.
<v Todd Duncan>One of the fantasies that photographers live with constantly, particularly in the face of danger, is that their cameras are some sort of protecting amulet and that as long as they have a camera around their neck or on their shoulders, that they are safe. <v George Shinhoster>Especially for a lot of the photographers that we think about who would have been people of color, African-American, it was certainly not an amulet at all. You know, it didn't give them license to do anything. I mean, you know, the target was Black and and. <v Steve Crump>Didn't care who. <v George Shinhoster>Didn't care who. And so it was it was they they probably received a double dose on some occasions. <v Steve Crump>Prints from the front lines helped pave the way and opened the doors of newsrooms across America. Todd Duncan is a photo editor with The Charlotte Observer. He carefully select shots for many of the daily editions and recognizes a sincere debt of gratitude.
<v Todd Duncan>They showed us the the possible. They showed us what photojournalism could do. They showed us and taught us about the power of photography and what we could do with our photographs. <v Jack Claiborne>These people demonstrated that there were needs to have many other sets of eyes and ears listening and looking at what are conditions in America. <v Alex Rivera>You always like to feel that that you've made an impact. However, you don't know. You just you just want to hope that you that you've made an impact. The gratifying thing is that the people who come to you and know and sing your praises. <v Dianne Curtain>They opened a lot of doors for me and also opened my mind. <v Steve Crump>Dianne Curtain's photo of a grandmother and child facing personal tragedy won the George Associated Press news photo of the year. The South Carolina native has worked at local papers in Georgia and North Carolina. She recognized the works of those who walked before her.
<v Dianne Curtain>I think we need to pass that on as far as encouraging younger people to go into this field, encouraging, encouraging them to take a stand. <v Steve Crump>History has been lost. <v Alex Rivera>Had I known, had I known what I was involved in and I would have had enough material for books and books on top of books, but I just didn't. <v Count Jackson>When I went bankrupt in my file any equipment I had at that time was seized by the state. <v Dianne Curtain>The thought just never occurred to me to document more things than than I did. <v Steve Crump>The visual perspectives of those once excluded from the nation's mainstream are important for preserving America's past.
<v David Goldfield>These individuals were virtually anonymous to the general public. And I think today the best thing we can do is to bring these individuals to the public, notice that they were A, artists, and B, not necessarily in a declining order, but second, they were participants in a great period of historic change and they changed and helped change America. <v Charles Jones>So this storytelling is absolutely essential to glue and bind one generation to the next. Otherwise it just gets lost. <v Steve Crump>The late James Van Der Zee, who helped inspire the Harlem Renaissance, and award winning photographer, Gordon Parks. Are America's best known people of color who express themselves with pictures across the South. Some history is being saved. <v Crowd>Thank you so much. Thank you very much.
<v Steve Crump>Cecil Williams is promoting a book titled Freedom and Justice. It covers 40 years of the movement in South Carolina. And there is also a video bearing the same title. Williams has access to more than five thousand prints and negatives from as many assignments. One of the biggest collections of headlines and photos from the Black press can be found in Howard University's Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, a collection including the nation's first Black newspaper, Freedom's Journal. It was published in 1827. <v Dr. Thomas Battle>Historically Black colleges and universities throughout the United States have taken the leadership responsibility in documenting and preserving Black history and culture. These institutions, regardless of where they are located, regardless of their circumstances, regardless of their age, have taken the initiative. They've been in the forefront. <v Steve Crump>That is the case at North Carolina Central University in Durham, Alex Rivera's works are showcased at the campus library in an exhibit titled Pictorial Echoes of the Past. Even larger campuses have an interest. USC South Caroliniana Library in Columbia, carries a number of works paying tribute to the efforts of Black photographers. One of their proudest collections is that of Richard Samuel Roberts, who ran a studio in Columbia from 1920 to 1936. The collection contains more than 3000 images. A book of prints titled The True Likeness tells the Roberts story.
- Exposures of a Movement
- Producing Organization
- WTVI (Television station : Charlotte, N.C.)
- Contributing Organization
- The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
- AAPB ID
- Program Description
- "They have been regarded as the unsung heroes of the civil rights movement. Dodging danger, risking their lives, and opening up the doors of newsrooms across America. The efforts of black photographers are often overlooked. Their powerful photos evoked emotion and helped change the country at a time of racial turmoil. Four of these men are featured in the WTVI production 'Exposures of a Movement'. It follows their efforts, hardships, and contributions that are etched in history."--1996 Peabody Awards entry form. This program tells the stories of black photographers who documented the Civil Rights Movement, whose photographs swayed both public opinion and helped to change government policy. Black and white still photographs and clips from original newsreel footage are interspersed with interviews with photographers of the Civil Rights Movement era Alex Rivera, Cecil J. Williams, Count Jackson, and James Peeler. History and journalism experts are also interviewed, as well as people involved in the movement and included in the photographs.
- Broadcast Date
- Asset type
- Media type
- Moving Image
Producing Organization: WTVI (Television station : Charlotte, N.C.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the
University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-d8970624d98 (Filename)
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- Chicago: “Exposures of a Movement,” 1996-02-06, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 26, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-526-rv0cv4d20k.
- MLA: “Exposures of a Movement.” 1996-02-06. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-526-rv0cv4d20k>.
- APA: Exposures of a Movement. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-526-rv0cv4d20k