Images of Race in the News


Recent court cases have put race and civil rights back in the spotlight. As always, images have played an intense role in reflecting and molding our perceptions of the cases. In the 1960s photos of Bull Connor’s police spraying peaceful protestors with firehoses and sicking dogs on them played a key role in galvanizing opinions among many that huge changes were needed, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


The Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case has spawned a host of images, some forcing us to imagine a role reversal of victim/killer. For many of us, this judgment was a reflection of a permanent racial bias written into our laws. The charged nature of racial imagery has also inevitably led to fakery, meant to mislead viewers by using well-worn cliches of black youth thuggishness. Part of our duty as citizens is to understand how images form our conceptions and reflect consciously on their power to persuade, for good and bad.

To explore further:

For all the world to see : visual culture and the struggle for civil rights / Maurice Berger ; foreword by Thulani Davis. – P94.5.A372 U534 2010

Black image in the white mind : media and race in America / Robert M. Entman and Andrew Rojecki. – P94.5.A372 U55 2001

Playing the race card : melodramas of black and white from Uncle Tom to O.J. Simpson / Linda Williams – P94.5 .M552 U67 2001

Race, media, and the crisis of civil society : from Watts to Rodney King / Ronald N. Jacobs – P94.5.A372 U557 2000

Powerful days : the civil rights photography of Charles Moore / text by Michael S. Durham – E185.61 .D94 2007

The self in black and white : race and subjectivity in postwar American photography / Erina Duganne – TR23 .D84 2010


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s