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April 1, 2012

Race in America: How Little Some Pictures Have Changed

The wonderful writer-editor, James Pomerantz (who is now contributing to The New Yorker’s PhotoBooth), tweeted me a few links this week. In researching imagery in the National Archives related to L.B.J. and the J.F.K. assassination, James came upon these photos from 1973 by the photographer, Yoichi Okamoto, who is probably best known as having been Johnson’s official photographer. (Here’s James’ post.)

I actually didn’t think to post these photos until flipping on CNN Friday afternoon. They were showing one of those town hall audience-and-experts convos, this one called: Beyond Trayvon: Race and Justice in America.” I can’t remember which of their guest said it but the key line that stuck with me, with these pictures in mind, was something to the effect that Trayvon’s shooting had brought to the surface many racial issues that really haven’t changed much since the sixties.

The first photo is titled “Street Arrest.” The second is “Stopped for Speeding.”

PHOTOS by Yoichi Okamoto/National Archives

(Records of the Environmental Protection Agency, 1944 – 2006 Series: DOCUMERICA: The Environmental Protection Agency’s Program to Photographically Document Subjects of Environmental Concern, 1972 – 1977. Items: STREET ARREST, 05/1973 & STOPPED FOR SPEEDING, 05/1973)

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