Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare: Photography and the African American Freedom Struggle

Synopsis

In Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare, Leigh Raiford argues that over the past one hundred years activists in the black freedom struggle have used photographic imagery both to gain political recognition and to develop a different visual vocabulary about black lives. Raiford analyzes why activists chose photography over other media, explores the doubts some individuals had about the strategies, and shows how photography became an increasingly effective, if complex, tool in representing black political interests.

Offering readings of the use of photography in the antilynching movement, the civil rights movement, and the black power movement, Raiford focuses on key transformations in technology, society, and politics to understand the evolution of photography's deployment in capturing white oppression, black resistance, and African American life. By putting photography at the center of the long African American freedom struggle, Raiford also explores how the recirculation of these indelible images in political campaigns and art exhibits both adds to and complicates our memory of the events.