Civil Rights–A Long Road

Civil rights march on Washington. Photo by Warren K. Leffler for U.S. News & World Report, 1963. hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.03130 - lead image for the Flickr album: Civil Rights--A Long Road

Civil rights march on Washington. Photo by Warren K. Leffler, 1963. Lead image for the Flickr album: Civil Rights–A Long Road

This year’s anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has offered occasion to pause and reflect on the injustices the legislation was meant to address, the actions that called attention to those injustices, and the continued struggle to see legislative ideals become everyday reality.

Last week we added a new “album” to the Library of Congress Flickr account exploring those themes though 20 selected photographs. We share only images with “no known copyright restrictions” on Flickr, and that added further challenge and focus to the selection process. The album includes photographs from the 1930s to the 1970s by government photographers, photojournalists, and participants who witnessed markers large and small on the journey towards civil rights for all.

Photographers working in the 1930s and 1940s for the Farm Security Administration documented social and economic conditions experienced by African Americans as part of a larger project to record rural and urban life throughout the United States. Flickr members commented on the power of this image, which conveys a whole system and set of assumptions through prominently displayed signage.

"Man drinking at a water cooler in streetcar terminal, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Photo by Russell Lee, 1939. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8a26761

“Man drinking at a water cooler in streetcar terminal, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.” Photo by Russell Lee, 1939. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8a26761

In the following decades, news photographers and participants captured many facets of the evolving civil rights movement and its consequences.

Filming high school classes, Little Rock, Ark. Photo by Thomas O'Halloran, 1958 Sept. (Students were educated via television during the period that the Little Rock schools were closed to avoid integration). //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.03124

Filming high school classes, Little Rock, Ark. Photo by Thomas O’Halloran, 1958 Sept. (Students were educated via television during the period that the Little Rock schools were closed to avoid integration). //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.03124

 Civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Photo by Peter Pettus, 1999 or 2000 from a photograph taken in 1965. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.08102

Civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Photo by Peter Pettus, 1999 or 2000 from a photograph taken in 1965. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.08102

The Flickr album does not include the most iconic photographs from the era, most of which may still be under copyright. But it does show the many people and approaches involved in the campaign for equality in its most dramatic moments as well as its quieter ones.

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