Road to Freedom

Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956-1968

Julian Cox
Introduction by Charles Johnson
Afterword by John Lewis

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  • Published: 2008
  • Subject Listing: History
  • Bibliographic information: 152 pp., 120 illus., 10 in color, 9 x 10 in.
  • Distributed for: High Museum of Art
  • Contents

The direct action social protest movement of the 1950s and 1960s resulted in sit-ins, marches, and other showdowns with armed police officers and National Guardsmen. Trained in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s methods of nonviolence, young black men and women took to the streets to fight for their civil rights and sparked a social revolution. Thousands of acts of courage were undertaken in the pursuit of freedom-acts that were often photographed, leaving behind a disquieting visual record of this violent and tumultuous period in American history.

Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956-1968 is the most significant exhibition of civil rights photographs presented in an art museum in more than twenty years. These images were taken by many photographers-photojournalists, artists, movement photographers, and amateurs alike-all of whom seem to have had a keen understanding of the significance of their subject. This publication presents a narrative of some of the key moments of the civil rights movement, including the Freedom Rides of 1961, the Birmingham hosings of 1963, and the Selma to Montgomery March of 1965. These are the unforgettable images that helped to change the nation, increasing the momentum of the nonviolent movement by dramatically raising awareness of injustice and the struggle for equality.
Julian Cox is curator of photography at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. Charles Johnson's most recent fiction publication is Dr. King's Refrigerator and Other Bedtime Stories. He is the S. Wilson and Grace M. Pollock Professor of Writing at the University of Washington. John Lewis is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and was a leader in the American civil rights movement.
Director's Foreword / Michael E. Shapiro
Preface and Acknowledgments / Julian Cox
Introduction / Charles Johnson
Bearing Witness: Photography and the Civil Rights Movement / Julian Cox
Afterword / John Lewis
List of Plates
Selected Bibliography

"This volume is a testament to the power of images to shape collective consciousness and channel collective action."
-Multicultural Review

"Road to Freedom demonstrates how photography has been effectively utilized to provoke change by making visible the harsh reality of the Jim Crow segregationists law, revealing how visual information can affect society. This group of photographs confronted people: it made some think and others connect with the call for equality, showing that informed viewers can transform the world."