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History through the lens of today: Civil rights

Photojournalist Andrew Lichtenstein is documenting sites important to America's past, with the idea that what he finds there reflects on what's important to people in the present.  Introduction: About this project

Andrew Lichtenstein / Facing Change

Galveston, Texas

Above: A crowd listens to the annual reading of the Emancipation Proclamation by local officials at a ceremony for Juneteenth, a Texas holiday that commemorates June 19, 1865. On that day slaves were told by a Union general in occupied Galveston that the Emancipation Proclamation, written two years earlier by Abraham Lincoln, had set them free.

 

Andrew Lichtenstein / Facing Change

Cross Keys, Virginia

Above: There is no marker or monument at Cabin Pond, a small swamp in rural Southampton County, Va., where the slave Nat Turner first received a vision that it was his assigned task to free America's slaves with a rebellion. Cabin Pond is also where Turner planned the rebellion in the summer of 1831 and where he fled to hide after the revolt's failure. A few weeks later he was captured about a mile away. Turner's rebellion so terrified slave owners in the region that they attempted to erase it from history, as well as enacting new laws that made it illegal to teach slaves to read or write.

 

Andrew Lichtenstein / Facing Change

Montgomery, Alabama

Above: At the exact bus stop where Rosa Parks boarded a city bus for her famous trip to fight segregation in 1955, participants in a Sons of Confederate Veterans "Confederate Heritage Rally" wait to march up Dexter Avenue in downtown Montgomery, Ala., to recreate the 1861 inauguration of Jefferson Davis. Strongly denying that the Civil War had anything to do with the issue of slavery, speakers at the rally celebrated Jeff Davis as “the last president of a truly free Republic.”

 

Andrew Lichtenstein / Facing Change

Lake Placid, New York

Above: John Brown's last family home outside Lake Placid, N.Y., is a preserved National Historic Site. Brown moved to the farm, in what was then called North Elba, in the late 1850s at the invitation of the wealthy abolitionist Gerrit Smith. He came to the remote Adirondack Mountains to help black farmers to whom Smith had given land grants. Soon enough, however, he left the community, known as Timbuktu, to plan his raid on the federal arsenal in Harper's Ferry, Va.

 

Andrew Lichtenstein / Facing Change

Memphis, Tennessee

Above: The Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., where Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, is now the National Civil Rights Museum. The museum recreated King’s last room, with cigarettes in the ashtray and the bed sheet pulled down. Mahalia Jackson’s song “Oh Precious Lord,” King’s favorite song, plays over a set of speakers, and visitors from around the world still come to pay their respect, to both the man and the dream.

Editor's note: This is Part 1 in a three-part series, History through the lens of today, that we're publishing in PhotoBlog this week.

Lichtenstein continues this work with the help of a grant from The Aftermath Project.