Provoca­tive pho­to­graphs and right­eous babes

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - THE GO GUIDE - Ben Crandell

Fifty years ago, in a speech at Illinois Wes­leyan Univer­sity, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. re­sponded to the Watts ri­ots of the pre­vi­ous year with a care­fully cal­i­brated ap­peal. In its sug­ges­tion that part of the so­lu­tion lay in the eco­nom­ics of the time, King’s call to­day sounds sadly fa­mil­iar.

“We must build a great Amer­ica. It can­not be built on vi­o­lence. It can­not be built on ri­ots. And ev­ery­body must work hard to build a cli­mate and to change the con­di­tions that make for the bit­ter­ness and that make for the agony that cause in­di­vid­u­als to turn to this kind of self-de­struc­tion,” he said. “… In spite of the dif­fi­cul­ties ahead, in spite of the fact that we must work hard, I still have faith in the fu­ture. And I still have faith in Amer­ica, be­cause I love Amer­ica, and I be­lieve that we will con­tinue to build a coali­tion of con­science

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and on Twit­ter at @Ben Crandell that one day will solve this prob­lem.”

Two years later, the civil rights leader and ad­vo­cate for non­vi­o­lence was dead, his as­sas­si­na­tion spark­ing a new wave of ri­ots in ma­jor cities across the coun­try.

In Oak­land dur­ing that tense sum­mer of 1968, two pho­tog­ra­phers, Ger­man-born Ruth-Mar­ion Baruch and Louisiana na­tive Pirkle Jones, took a se­ries of pic­tures of a “Free Huey” rally. The gath­er­ing was or­ga­nized by the Black Pan­ther Party for Self De­fense in sup­port of one of its founders, Huey New­ton, await­ing trial in the shoot­ing death of a po­lice of­fi­cer (his con­vic­tion was over­turned in 1970).

One of the re­mark­able things about th­ese pic­tures is their fo­cus on the crowd, the ma­jor­ity of which are not rad­i­cals in omi­nous black shades, but neatly dressed, middle-class fam­i­lies, per­haps en­cour­aged by the Pan­thers’ grass­roots work on is­sues such as education and health care.

When some of the pho­to­graphs taken by Baruch and Jones were put on dis­play last year in the ex­hibit “The Sum­mer of ’68: Pho­tograph­ing the Black Pan­thers” at the Nor­ton Mu­seum of Art in West Palm Beach, the show was sched­uled to run through Nov. 29. But the re­sponse to the pic­tures was so over­whelm­ing that the Nor­ton ex­tended the ex­hibit through this Sun­day.

On this three-day week­end, when coali­tions of con­science gather and con­ver­sa­tions are had about the way for­ward, there may be some­thing to be learned in look­ing back at “The Sum­mer of ’68” at the Nor­ton Mu­seum. At the very least, it’s a re­minder that we’re all in this to­gether. Info: Nor­ton.org.

DIANE WARD MU­SIC/COUR­TESY

Diane Ward will be joined by Magda Hiller Satur­day night at Luna Star Cafe.

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