Depression Mother

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Behind the camera:
Where: Just outside a temporary settlement called, Pea-Pickers Camp, on the outskirts of Nipomo, California. The camp was a temporary encampment for migrant farm workers and their families
Photo Summary: Florence Owens Thompson flanked by daughter Katherine (age 4) on the left and Ruby (age 5) on the right. The Baby on Florence’s lap is Norma aged 1
Picture Taken: Early March, 1936
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange’s famous picture of Florence Owens Thompson was taken during the Great Depression. While the book, Grapes of Wrath, became the literary representation of America’s poor during the ’30s, Lange’s ‘Migrant Mother’ picture became the visual one. Lange took the image of Florence Thompson with her family near the small town of Nipomo as part of a photo assignment for the government covering the plight of migrant farm workers. The official in charge of documenting and photographing the American poor for the federal project saw thousands of pictures as part of duties but describes the “Migrant Mother” as the “ultimate” photo of the Depression Era. The picture itself is part of a series of 6 and shows from left to right: Katherine age 4(head turned), Florence Owens (later married as Thompson) age 34, and Ruby Owens (head turned) age 5. The Baby on Florence’s lap is Norma aged 1.

Depression photographer

Colorized version of the iconic Lange image

Colorized version of the iconic Lange image

Dorothea Lange, the photographer was born in Hoboken New Jersey on May 26, 1895. At the age of seven, she developed polio which ravaged her right leg giving her a life long limp. In New York, she studied photography, and in 1918 she moved to the West coast opening a successful portrait studio in San Francisco. After the Great Depression, she became famous for her portraits of the effects of the stock market crash. Her pictures got the attention of the federal Resettlement Administration (RA), later called the Farm Security Administration (FSA), who in the mid ’30s offered her a job documenting America’s poor.

Taking the Picture

It was during March 1936 that as part of her effort to photograph migrants for the government that she took the famous shot of Florence Owens Thompson. Lange was returning to her Berkley, California home after spending a month taking pictures of migrant farmers around Los Angles. She had just passed through Santa Maria and was on the outskirts of another small Californian town, Nipomo when she saw a sprawling settlement with a sign declaring its name, Pea-Pickers Camp. Thousands had descended on the camp in hopes of getting work picking Peas in the surrounding farms. Unfortunately, an early cold snap had wiped out the crop and over 2000 people were stranded at the camp. Lange actually passed the camp as she was anxious to get home but after much internal debate decided to do a quick stop before continuing home.

Dorothea Lange took a number of pictures of the family moving closer and closer each time.

A U-turn brought her back to the camp and she quickly noticed a subject. In a 1960’s interview, she would recall that “I was following instinct, not reason, I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet.” Over 10 min and using her Graflex camera, she took 6 shots, with each exposure she moved closer to the family. The final vertical picture is what would later become the famous, “Migrant Mother”. The usually well organized Lange took detailed notes, but perhaps in her haste to get home only got the very basic of information, not even getting the subject’s name. Years later she would remember that the woman, “told me her age, that she was 32. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that her children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean-to tent, with her children huddled around her and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it”. She packed up her equipment and continued on her way, “I did not approach the tents and shelters of other stranded pea-pickers,” she remembered. “I knew I had recorded the essence of my assignment.”

When she returned home, Lange developed the pictures and immediately sent them off to the San Francisco News who used two of the 6 shots but not the now famous, “Migrant Mother”. The paper ran the images in their March 10, 1936, edition under the headline: “Ragged, Hungry, Broke, Harvest Workers Live in Squalor.” The national media quickly picked up the story and used the “Migrant Mother” picture across the country. Public outcry ensured that the federal government quickly sent the “Pickers Camp” settlement 20,000 pounds of food.

Florence Thompson Emerges

The identity of the women in the picture wasn’t discovered until the late 70’s almost 40 years after the picture was taken. It was Florence Thompson herself who got in touch with the editors of her local newspaper, the Modesto Bee to tell her story.

Florence Owens Thompson was born on September 1, 1901, in the Indian Territory of the Cherokee Nation with the name maiden name, Florence Leona Christie. Both of her parents claimed Cherokee blood rights to the land making her a full-blooded Native American of the Cherokee Nation. She lived on a small farm on the Cherokee Territory and when she was 17 married Cleo Owens, a 23-year-old farmer. They had three children before they moved with other members of the Owen family to California where they found work in the forestry and farming industries. After Wall Street crashed in 1929, millwork dried up and the family, then with 5 children moved to Oroville in northern California where the Owen clan found work on the surrounding farms.

We lived under that bridge
– Thompson

Florence’s husband Cleo, sadly died shortly after the move when he caught a fever one day while picking peaches. At the time of his death, she was pregnant and the Owen family offered to take some of the children, an offer Florence refused. She stayed with her husband’s family for two years working in the fields during the day and at a restaurant at night to support her family. In 1933 she found out that she was pregnant again and fled back to her parent’s home out of fear the father would take her child.
She lived with her family for a short time before they too moved out to California in hopes of better work. Over the next few years, the family along with thousands of migrant workers drove up and down California, camping along the way, in search of farm work so that she could feed her and her children. In 1935 she started a relationship with James R. Hill and soon she was pregnant again, eventually giving birth to a girl, Norma Lee in March of 1935. With Hill she had three more children, life was hard and they moved constantly throughout California always just making it, just getting enough food on the table. Thompson would later recall, “when Steinbeck wrote in The Grapes of Wrath about those people living under the bridge at Bakersfield—at one time we lived under that bridge. It was the same story. Didn’t even have a tent then, just a ratty old quilt.” Hill who was remembered by her daughter as not having much ambition, eventually moved out of the family’s life and after World War II she married hospital administrator George Thompson who Florence was finally able to find stability with and resources to support her family.

Not what she seems

Around the same time, the Modesto Bee article was published, author Bill Ganzel was writing a book, Dust Bowl Descent, about people photographed by the RA during the depression. During his research, he came upon Florence Thompson’s story, tracked her down in 1979. During his interviews, he was able to get Florence and her family’s version of what happened when Lange pulled into the camp and took their picture.
In March of 1936 Florence then still with Jim Hill had finished work picking beets and were off to the Pajoro Valley in their Hudson Sedan in hopes of finding work in the Pajoro Valley’s lettuce fields. On Highway 101, just outside Nipomo, the Hudson’s timing chain broke and they were able to get the car into the pea picker’s camp in hopes of making repairs. They were amazed at a number of people in the camp and the conditions they were living in. Florence would later recall that while making a meal for the family children from the surrounding camps came over to beg because they didn’t have any food. Disaster struck when the boys punctured the radiator with a screwdriver while trying to fix their car. They then had to remove the radiator and take it to town in order to do repairs.
While the boys were in town Dorothea Lange came into the camp and took her pictures. In Lange’s field notes, she described the family as, “Seven hungry children. Father is native Californian. Destitute in pea pickers’ camp … because of failure of the early pea crop. These people had just sold their tires to buy food.” Florence insists that Lange never asked her any questions. According to Florence she just took the pictures and told her that they would never be published and her family would later tell Bill Ganzel, “There’s no way we sold our tires, because we didn’t have any to sell … The only ones we had were on the Hudson and we drove off in them. I don’t believe Dorothea Lange was lying, I just think she had one story mixed up with another. Or she was borrowing to fill in what she didn’t have.”
When the story broke and the food was delivered to the Pea Pickers camp, the Owens-Hill family had already moved on and reached their destination, the outskirts of Watsonville, in Pajaro Valley.

Mama’s been shot, Mama’s been shot
Thompson’s kids

It was here while selling newspapers to make extra money that the family saw the front cover with their mother’s picture. Due to a typing error, a large ink spot appeared in the middle of Florence’s forehead and first the children thought that their mother had been shot. The boys remember running back to where their mother was camped screaming, “‘Mama’s been shot, Mama’s been shot,’ … We both ran back to camp, and, of course, she was OK. We showed her the picture, and she just looked at it. She didn’t say nothin’.” In 1979 Bill Ganzel recreated the “Migrant Mother” taking a picture of Florence Thompson and her three daughters, Norma Rydlewski, Katherine McIntosh and Ruby Sprague the same three who were present in the 1936 picture.

Florence always hated the picture and whenever she saw it would get angry because she thought Lange was getting rich off her image. However, because Lange was taking the picture for the federal government she never directly received any money. The picture did provide Lange celebrity and respect from her colleagues. Lange’s childhood polio would come to haunt her in her later years and she suffered from bleeding ulcers and post-polio syndrome. On October 11, 1965, she died at the age of seventy without ever knowing who the subject was in her famous picture.

Life moves on

Florence’s extended family grew through the ages and she passed on her legacy of hard work and loyalty to her 10 children, 39 grandchildren, 74 great-grandchildren. She always hated the picture but in 1983 it would come in useful. In early 1983 then 81 Thompson was diagnosed with cancer. Treatment of the disease triggered a stroke and she soon required round the clock care. By the summer of 1983, her bill was reaching $1400 a week. The family couldn’t afford it and turned to the public. Jack Foley of the San Jose Mercury News picked up the story and it got national attention. Soon envelopes started pouring in from all over the country eventually raising more than $35,000. Florence’s children were overwhelmed by the response and reflected that “None of us ever really understood how deeply Mama’s photo affected people … I guess we had only looked at it from our perspective. For Mama and us, the photo had always been a bit of a curse. After all those letters came in, I think it gave us a sense of pride.” The response of the nation seemed to improve Florence’s health but she never recovered from the stroke. On September 16, 1983, Florence Thompson died at her son’s home. A nurse who was helping out with her care recalls, “Right before Florence died … she opened her eyes and looked right at me. It was the most conscious she had been in a long time. I went to get the family. They were holding her, kissing her cheek, stroking her hair. Telling her how much they loved her. And then she took her last breath. It was a beautiful, very peaceful moment. It felt very complete.”

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Naked Lennon

Behind the camera: Annie Leibovitz
Where: Lennon’s New York bedroom
Photo Summary: John Lennon and Yoko Ono from cover of Rolling Stone Magazine
Picture Taken: Picture taken on December 8, 1980 for Rolling Stones magazine Cover 335, January 22, 1981

The cover of Rolling Stones Edition 335 (January 22, 1981) was the famous shot of a naked John Lennon clinging to a fully clothed Yoko Ono. It was taken just hours before John was killed by crazed fan Mark Chapman. In 2005 Yoko and Lennon’s cover of Rolling Stone was voted the best cover by a panel of magazine editors who reviewed the best covers in the past four decades.

Taking the Picture

The morning of Dec 8, 1980, Annie Leibovitz visited the New York apartment of John Lennon and Yoko Ono to do a photo shoot for Rolling Stones. Annie originally tried to just get a shot of Lennon without Yoko but Lennon insisted that she be on the cover too. Annie recalled that “nobody wanted her on the cover”. She then thought of trying to recreate the kissing scene from his album cover, Double Fantasy an image that moved Annie Leibovitz very much.

“What is interesting is she said she’d take her top off and I said, ‘Leave everything on’ — not really preconceiving the picture at all. Then he curled up next to her and it was very, very strong. You couldn’t help but feel that she was cold and he looked like he was clinging on to her. I shot some test Polaroids first,” Leibovitz wrote a month later in Rolling Stone, “and when I showed them to John and Yoko, John said, ‘You’ve captured our relationship exactly’. I looked him in the eye and we shook on it.”
Later that day Mark Chapman shot John as he was walking from his limo into his apartment.

Doctors at the hospital worked frantically to stabilize Lennon but he had lost too much blood and was pronounced dead.  Yoko Ono asked the hospital to keep it a secret so that Ono could tell their son before he saw it on the news but an ABC reporter just happened to be in the hospital for an injury and scooped the story.

When Annie Leibovitz heard that he had been shot she rushed to the hospital. She photographed the doctor announcing John’s death at the hospital.

The last photo of Lennon taken with Chapman in the background.  By Paul Goresh

The last photo of Lennon taken with Chapman in the background. By Paul Goresh

Annie Leibovitz

Leibovitz was one of six children, and was a “military brat”; her father was a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, and family moved frequently when she was young. Leibovitz was influenced by her mother, a modern dance instructor.
In high school, she became interested in various artistic endeavours, and wrote and played music. She attended the San Francisco Art Institute. She became interested in photography after taking pictures on a trip to visit her family, who was then based in the Philippines. For several years, she continued to develop her photography skills while she worked various jobs, including a stint on a kibbutz in Israel for several months in 1969.
When Leibovitz returned to America in 1970, she became involved with Rolling Stone magazine, which had just launched a short time before. In 1973, publisher Jann Wenner named Leibovitz chief photographer of the magazine, and she remained with the magazine until 1983.
This photo is often quoted as being the last picture of John but the very, very last photograph was a snap taken by a fan, Paul Goresh, who happened to be standing outside the Dakota building at that moment when John agreed to sign an album for another fan, Mark Chapman, who turned out to be his assassin.

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Fairey Obama Poster

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1) After an google image search Fairey picks the infamous AP image. 2)Simple is best, by making the image simpler its easier to reproduce and according to Fairey, “I want strong,” 3)Knowing that its a presidential campaign he uses a patriotic red, white and blue color scheme. 4)Asked about the socialist red Fairey says “… don’t let the Soviets steal our red. Red is a good primary color,” 5)The first 700 posters used the word “PROGRESS”. Later runs were asked by the Obama campaign to use HOPE and CHANGE 6)Instead of a flag pin Fairey uses his logo so that Fairey collectors will buy it

Behind the camera: Mannie Garcia took the photo Fairey made the poster
Where: Obama at the National Press Club in Washington
Photo Summary: Obama
Picture Taken: On April 27, 2006 Mannie Garcia took the photo on left. In early 2008 Shepard Fairey made his poster.

As the Obama presidential campaign started to build up steam one image quickly became the unofficial symbol, that of the Obama hope poster. Designed by graffiti artist Shepard Fairey the image quickly went viral and became the iconic image of the campaign. After the election, it emerged that Fairey used an AP image as the basis and since then he has become embroiled in a legal case over who owns the copyright.

When Obama was just starting his presidential campaign Fairey became inspired to create an image that would help the Obama’s presidential run. Mindful of the damage a “street” artist could do supporting a mainstream candidate Fairey asked advice from his associate, Yosi Sergant, a marketing/publicity guru who had ties to the Obama campaign. Yosi was able to get the go-ahead from Obama’s people and after an Internet image search found one that he thought would be perfect. He made the poster in one day and sent it to Yosi who gave it a green light. This original poster had the word PROGRESS on the bottom. Immediately he did a run of 700 posters which he split giving 350 away and selling the other 350 to make money to do another run. The first run quickly sold out paying for the second edition of 4,000 posters that were given away at Obama rallies. The second run had the word PROGRESS changed to HOPE at the behest of the Obama campaign. In an interview with blogger Ben Arnon from the Huffington Post Fairey and Sergant recall what happened next:

1) After an google image search Fairey picks the infamous AP image. 2)Simple is best, by making the image simpler its easier to reproduce and according to Fairey, "I want strong," 3)Knowing that its a presidential campaign he uses a patriotic red, white and blue color scheme. 4)Asked about the socialist red Fairey says "... don't let the Soviets steal our red. Red is a good primary color," 5)The first 700 posters used the word "PROGRESS". Later runs were asked by the Obama campaign to use HOPE and CHANGE 6)Instead of a flag pin Fairey uses his logo so that Fairey collectors will buy it

SF: As soon as I posted it on my web site a lot of people that go to my web site saw it. Yosi also blasted it out to a lot of his contacts. It became very clear quickly that the demand for an image like that had not been supplied and that the Obama supporters were very hungry for it and also very motivated to spread it…
I think a perfect pop culture example of something like that is the Rolling Stones tongue logo. The tongue was a secondary logo on the back of the Sticky Fingers album, but it was iconic and simple. Now it’s sort of undisputed as the Rolling Stones logo even though it was never created intentionally to be that. It found an audience and it manifested…
BA: Tell me more about that initial run of 350 posters.
SF: Well, the way I’m used to doing things when I print up posters is I print some to sell and I print some to put up on the street. I fund the ones I put up on the street with the ones I sell. … I actually lowered the price on the print thinking that a lot of people might be pessimistic about Obama’s chances and it might not sell well. And I included my Obey star embedded in the Obama logo, not to try to highjack Obama’s credibility as some people have said. But rather, because I know that my hard-core collectors would feel that they had to buy the poster just because it had an Obey logo. Therefore, I was more or less forcing my audience to fund further perpetuation of the image.
BA: Was the majority of your audience that bought the original print Los Angeles-based or nationwide?
SF: Definitely nationwide. I had no idea that it would happen but immediately after those prints were sold out they were selling for $2,000-$6,000 on the Internet. …
SF: I had already read rumors that I was profiting big-time off of the Obama image. Even though that wasn’t valid, I was very cautious not to do anything that would even vaguely validate that argument. So I actually ended up selling a lot of fine art commissions of the Obama image to private collectors and using that money to print more posters rather than continuing to sell the posters. We’ve sold less than 2,000 posters and have printed over 200,000 of them. And we’ve printed 500,000 stickers.

Copyright claim

Following the adage that the best defence is a good offence Fairey filed a lawsuit on February 9, 2009, against The Associated Press (AP) to declare that his Obama poster is protected from AP copyright infringement claims because the poster falls under “Fair Use Laws”. On NPR’s Fresh Air radio program Fairey had this to say:

Well, the AP was threatening to sue me, and they first contacted me and said, you know, let’s figure out how to work this out amicably, which I was [very] open to and said, you know, I’m glad to pay the original license fee for the image. For all the reasons I’ve already given you, I didn’t think that I needed to, but I’m glad to do it because, you know, I’d rather just make this easy for everyone.
And then they said no, we want damages. And then they ran a piece in the National Press basically saying I stole the photo, which as an artist that works from references frequently, you know, I feel that they’re calling into question the validity of my method of working … I felt that I needed to fight the AP not for myself only, but for a whole group of artists that would be self-censored, probably, because they can’t afford the photos and they don’t want to be in a legal entanglement over using those types of images to communicate a message.

On October 16, 2009, Fairey admitted that yes he had knowingly used the AP photo and had destroyed evidence to cloud that fact. In the ongoing lawsuit in April of 2010, a Judge ordered Fairey to say who if anyone helped destroy evidence that the AP photo was the one Fairey based the Obama poster on. U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ordered Fairey’s lawyers to “disclose relevant documents that were deleted or destroyed from Fairey’s files and when the deletions or destruction occurred.”

Shepard Fairey's United States Marshals Service mug shot taken in February 2012

Further complicating the issue is that Mannie Garcia claims that it’s not AP that has copyright but him. He claims that his contract with the AP gave him copyright over all his photos. However, when asked how he felt about the image he said that “so proud of the photograph and that Fairey did what he did artistically with it, and the effect it’s had,” but that he did not “condone people taking things, just because they can, off the Internet.”
In January of 2011 “The Associated Press, Shepard Fairey and Mr. Fairey’s companies Obey Giant Art, Inc., Obey Giant LLC, and Studio Number One, Inc., have agreed in principle to settle their pending copyright infringement lawsuit over rights in the Obama Hope poster and related merchandise… In settling the lawsuit, the AP and Mr. Fairey have agreed that neither side surrenders its view of the law.” Also included in the settlement was a confidential financial payment.
In February of 2012 Fairey “pleaded guilty in Manhattan Federal Court on Friday to one count of criminal contempt for destroying documents, manufacturing evidence and other misconduct.” In September of 2012, he was sentenced in a Manhattan federal court, for tampering with evidence, to two years of probation and a $25,000 fine.

Shepard Fairey

Frank Shepard Fairey is an American graphic artist whose work is similar to the Warhol pop art scene. His art, brand and logo based on the “André the Giant” emerged from the skateboarding scene and now his brand and slogan OBEY has a clothing line and print collection. He is seen as a sort of expert on graphic art and was interviewed in the Chevolution movie about the Che Guevara image. His Obama poster was included in The Smithsonian and he has also works in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

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Reagan Assassination Attempt

Behind the camera: Assembled media members and ABC cameraman Hank Brown
Where: In front of Washington (D.C.) Hilton Hotel located at 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW, near the intersection of Connecticut and Florida Avenues, a few blocks north of Dupont Circle
Photo Summary: The aftermath of John Hinckley’s assassination attempt
Picture Taken: March 30, 1981, 69 days into the United States Presidency of Ronald Reagan

Jerry get off, I think you’ve broken one of my ribs
-Regan to his secret service agent

Reagan’s shooter was a mentally ill John Hinckley Jr who had an obsession with actress Jodie Foster after seeing the film, Taxi Driver. He stalked her for a number of years before he decided that he needed to do something grand to get her attention. Hinckley decided to try and kill the president imitating Travis Bickle the lead character (played by Robert De Niro) of the movie Taxi Driver who also tried to kill a famous politician. On March 30, 1981, Hinkley ambushed the President who was leaving the Washington Hilton Hotel after delivering a luncheon address to AFL-CIO representatives. The attempt on Reagan’s life was caught on camera and is often used as one of the most famous pieces of footage of that era.

Video Breakdown

The footage starts with Aides to the President and then the President himself walking down to the Executive Limo parked outside the hotel. It seems like any other day and in the background, you can hear reporters about to ask questions. As the limo comes into the frame you can see a bald James Brady the President’s Press Secretary walk towards the cameraman. Just as Reagan reaches the Limo you hear loud pops, screams and then a commotion as Secret Service and Police wrestle Hinkley to the ground.
As the first shots ring out you can see secret service agent Tim McCarthy wearing a light blue suit go into an almost football stance as he tries to block the bullets from Hinkley’s gun. He succeeded in taking one of the bullets in his abdomen. Surgeons at George Washington University Hospital successfully removed the round from his stomach, and he fully recovered. He received the NCAA Award of Valor in 1982 in recognition of his bravery.
As the street clears you can see wounded lying on the street. James Brady, who took the first bullet, is the closest lying face down and not moving. Shot in the forehead he would suffer brain damage and became permanently disabled. Farthest away from the camera is secret service agent Tim McCarthy and right next to the wounded Brady is District of Columbia police officer Thomas Delehanty who was shot in the back by the third of John Hinckley, Jr.’s six bullets. He would later recover from his wounds.
As the camera pans down to Brady you can see Hinkley’s gun a Rohm RG-14 .22 cal. revolver on the ground and later you hear police asking for a tissue to take the gun into evidence. Agents are screaming for a police car to take Hinkley away. Eventually, the car comes but the rear door of the squad car jams so then they have to take him to another police car further down the street. As they hustle Hinkley into the patrol car the ambulance pulls up to treat the wounded.

Mr. President, today we are all Republicans
-Head surgeon and liberal Democrat Joseph Giordano

Reagan Remembers

My speech at the Hilton Hotel was not riotously received – I think most of the audience were Democrats – but at least they gave me polite applause. After the speech, I left the hotel through a side entrance and passed a line of press photographers and TV cameras.
I was almost to the car when I heard what sounded like two or three firecrackers over to my left – just a small fluttering sound, pop, pop, pop. I turned and said, “What the hell’s that?” Just then, Jerry Parr, the head of our Secret Service unit, grabbed me by the waist and literally hurled me into the back of the limousine. I landed on my face atop the armrest across the back seat and Jerry jumped on top of me. When he landed, I felt a pain in my upper back that was unbelievable. It was the most excruciating pain I had ever felt. “Jerry,” I said, “get off, I think you’ve broken one of my ribs.”
“The White House,” Jerry told the driver, then scrambled off me and got on the jump seat and the car took off. I tried to sit up on the edge of the seat and was almost paralyzed by pain. As I was straightening up, I had to cough hard and saw that the palm of my hand was brimming with extremely red frothy blood. “You not only broke a rib, I think the rib punctured my lung,” I said.
Jerry looked at the bubbles in the frothy blood and told the driver to head for George Washington University Hospital instead of the White House. By then my handkerchief was sopped with blood and he handed me his. Suddenly, I realized I could barely breathe. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get enough air. I was frightened and started to panic a little. I just was not able to inhale enough air. We pulled up in front of the hospital emergency entrance and I was first out of the limo and into the emergency room. A nurse was coming to meet me and I told her I was having trouble breathing. Then all of a sudden my knees turned rubbery. The next thing I knew I was lying face up on a gurney and my brand-new pinstriped suit was being cut off me, never to be worn again.
The pain near my ribs was still excruciating, but what worried me most was that I still could not get enough air, even after the doctors placed a breathing tube in my throat. Every time I tried to inhale, I seemed to get less air. I remember looking up from the gurney, trying to focus my eyes on the square ceiling tiles, and praying. Then I guess I passed out for a few minutes. I was lying on the gurney only half-conscious when I realized that someone was holding my hand. It was a soft, feminine hand. I felt it come up and touch mine and then hold on tight to it. It gave me a wonderful feeling. Even now I find it difficult to explain how reassuring, how wonderful, it felt. It must have been the hand of a nurse kneeling very close to the gurney, but I couldn’t see her. I started asking, “Who’s holding my hand? Who’s holding my hand?” When I didn’t hear any response, I said, “Does Nancy know about us?” — Reagan autobiography

Regan again lost conscious and when he again woke up he saw his wife, First Lady Nancy Reagan. Still keeping his wits he jokingly explained, “Honey, I forgot to duck” (borrowing Jack Dempsey’s line to his wife the night he was beaten by Gene Tunney for the heavyweight championship).
Shortly before surgery to remove the bullet, which barely missed his heart, Reagan remarked to the surgical team, “Please tell me you’re all Republicans.” The head surgeon, liberal Democrat Joseph Giordano, replied, “Mr. President, today we are all Republicans.”
Reagan had been scheduled to visit Philadelphia on the day of the shooting. He told a nurse, “All in all, I’d rather be in Philadelphia,” a reference to the W.C. Fields’s tagline (which was itself a reference to an old vaudeville joke among comedians: “I would rather be dead than play Philadelphia”).

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Martin Luther King Jr Killed

Behind the camera: James Louw
Where: Balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Photo Summary: A mortally wounded Martin Luther King Jr surrounded by friends and aides. Marrell Mccullough appears to be holding him in his arms
Picture Taken: Minutes after the bullet struck at 6:01 p.m. April 4, 1968

By all accounts, King was in a jovial mood that April 4 day. While standing on the balcony he joked with friends and colleagues while he waited for his jacket. At 6:01 a shot rang out, hitting King in the side of the face. Friends rushed to his side and desperately tried to stop the bleeding. Police soon appeared on the scene guns drawn asking where the shot came from. Those on the balcony pointed in the direction of an old run down hotel across the street. That moment was captured by photographer, James Louw, and now lives in infamy as King’s death shot.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was the most famous leader of the American civil rights movement, a political activist, and a Southern Baptist minister. In 1964, King became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (for his work as a peacemaker, promoting nonviolence and equal treatment for different races). In 1977, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter. In 1986, Martin Luther King Day was established as a United States holiday, only the fourth Federal holiday to honor an individual (the other three being in honor of Jesus of Nazareth, George Washington, and Christopher Columbus). In 2004, King was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Considered by many as one of the greatest public speakers in U.S. history, Dr. King often called for personal responsibility in fostering world peace. King’s most influential and well-known public address is the “I Have A Dream” speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Garbage Strike

In late March 1968, Dr. King went to Memphis, Tennessee in support of the black garbage workers of AFSCME Local 1733, who had been on strike since March 12 for higher wages and better treatment: for example, African American workers, paid $1.70 per hour, were not paid when sent home because of inclement weather (unlike white workers). The night before on April 3, Dr. King returned to Memphis and addressed a rally at the Bishop Charles Mason Temple, delivering his famous I’ve been to the Mountaintop address. After the assassination, the city quickly, quietly, and on favorable terms settled the strike.

In High Spirits

This is Ralph, this is Ralph, don’t be afraid.
-Reverend Abernathy to King

The owner of the Lorraine Motel, Walter Bailey, where King was staying claimed that King was a frequent guest at the establishment and that Reverend Ralph Abernathy, told the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) under oath that he and Dr. King stayed in room 306 at the Lorraine so often that it was referred to as the “King-Abernathy suite.” Bailey also remembers that on that fateful day, April 4, 1968, King was especially happy and while he was getting ready was, “teasing and cutting up” those present. One of King’s best friends and number two man in the SCLC, Reverend Abernathy, remembers that around 1 that day he and King had fried catfish for lunch and then Abernathy had a nap waking around 4 p.m. to King on the phone asking him to come over to his Brother’s, who was travelling with them, room.
When Abernathy arrived King told him that dinner was set for 6 p.m. as they had been invited for prime rib roast and soul food such as chitterlings, greens, pig’s feet and blackeyed peas at the local Rev.
Samuel “Billy” Kyles house.

From right to left Hosea Williams, Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Ralph David Abernaty posing for pictures on April 3, 1968. They are on the same Lorraine Motel balcony that Dr. King would be killed on the next day.

While the two got ready back in their room 306 Rev Kyles appeared and told them to get a move on or they would be late for the dinner. Dr. King had to assure Kyles that he had telephoned the preacher’s home and that Mrs. Kyles had said dinner was not until 6. “We are not going to mess up her program,” said Dr. King.
King and Kyles went to the balcony that overlooked the motel parking lot and swimming pool. There was a crowd of people present getting ready to go for dinner. King greeted the people below and from the second floor, Rev Kyles had a short conversation with the SCLC attorney Chauncey Eskridge who had been in Federal court most of the day trying to solve some legal problems with the strike protest.
Other SCLC members were in the courtyard including advance team members Rev. James Orange and James Bevel. They had been sent ahead of time to deal with a black militant group called, The Invaders. The Invaders were pushing for violence something King deplored. In fact, Orange had just arrived with Invader member, Marrell McCullough, who was, in fact, an undercover agent working as a mole in the Invader group.
King’s chauffeur, Solomon Jones, who had been beside King’s limo all day looked up and noticed that King didn’t have a jacket and called up that King should put on a jacket as it was getting cold. Witnesses recall that Dr. King smiled back at his driver and said, “Solomon, you really know how to take good care of me.” They were about to go when Abernathy decided to slip back into the hotel for some aftershave while King waited on the balcony chatting to members of his entourage below.

At 6:01 p.m., as Dr. King stood behind the iron balcony railing in front of room 306, the report of a high-powered rifle cracked the air. A slug tore into the right side of his face, violently throwing him backward.
At the mirror in room 306, Abernathy poured some cologne into his hands. As he lifted the lotion to his face, he heard what sounded like a “firecracker.” He jumped, looked out the door to the balcony and saw that Dr. King had fallen backward. Only his feet were visible, one foot protruding through the ironwork of the balcony railing. According to Abernathy, the bullet was so powerful it twisted Dr. King’s body so that he fell diagonally backward. As Abernathy rushed out to aid his dying friend, he heard the cries and groans of people in the courtyard below.
Just below the balcony, Jones recalled that Young and Bevel shoved him to the ground just after the firecracker sound. He looked up and saw Abernathy come out of the room and then realized that the prone Dr. King had been shot. Lee, who had been talking with Young and Bevel, took cover behind a car and then noticed Dr. King’s feet protruding through the balcony railing.
Memphis undercover policeman McCullough recalled that immediately before he heard the shot, he saw Dr. King alone on the balcony outside room 306, facing a row of dilapidated buildings on Mulberry Street. As he turned away from Dr. King and began to walk toward his car, McCullough, an Army veteran, heard an explosive sound, which he assumed was a gunshot. He looked back and saw Dr. King grasp his throat and fall backward. According to McCullough’s account, he bolted up the balcony steps as others in the courtyard hit the ground. When he got to Dr. King’s prone figure, the massive face wound was bleeding profusely and a sulphurous odor like gunpowder, perhaps Dr. King’s depilatory, permeated the air. McCullough took a towel from a housekeeping tray and tried to stem the flow of blood.
Eskridge had heard a “zing” and looked up toward the balcony. He saw that Dr. King was down, and as Abernathy walked out onto the balcony, Eskridge heard him cry out “Oh my God, Martin’s been shot.” A woman screamed.
Abernathy recalled that when he walked out on the balcony, he had to step over his mortally wounded friend.
…the bullet had entered his right cheek and I patted his left cheek, consoled him, and got his attention by saying, “This is Ralph, this is Ralph, don’t be afraid.”
Kyles, who had started to walk toward his car, ran back to room 306. Young leaped up the stairs from the courtyard to Dr. King, whom he found lying face up, rapidly losing blood from the wound. Young checked Dr. King’s pulse and, as Abernathy recalled, said, “Ralph, it’s all over.”
“Don’t say that, don’t say that,” Abernathy responded.

Kyles ran back to room 306 to call an ambulance but the switchboard operator, the motel owner’s wife, wasn’t at her desk. Kyles would later find out that she had gone out to the parking lot so that she could see Dr. King. When she saw what happened, she collapsed with a heart attack and would later pass away as a result.
Having no luck with the motel phones Kyles ran onto the balcony and noticed police in the courtyard screamed for them to call an ambulance on their radios. While waiting for it to come he took a spread from one of the motel beds and covered him from his neck down. He also took a crushed cigarette from his hand. Dr. King never smoked in public as he didn’t want the kids to see him smoking.
A King biographer, Taylor Branch, claims that King was still conscious while on the balcony and that his last words were to Ben Branch (no relation to Taylor Branch) a singer that was going to play that night: “Ben, make sure you play ‘Precious Lord, Take My Hand,’ in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.”
Rev Abernathy kneeling over his friend tried desperately to stop the bleeding. Around 5 mins after King had been shot an ambulance arrived and took him away to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m.

Jesse Jackson is Born

People freaked out and did strange things
-Andrew Young

King’s wound produced a huge amount of blood and after the ambulance took away his body all that was left a huge pool of King’s blood. Ralph Abernathy in a state of shock grabbed a jar and started scraping up the blood, crying how it was King’s blood and precious, “This blood was shed for us.”
Jesse Jackson also still in shock had by this time made his way to the balcony from where he was hiding down by the pool. Andrew Young remembers seeing Jackson dip his hands in the huge pool of blood and after raising them to the sky wiped them on his shirt, “people freaked out and did strange things … it was_ it was_ I mean, what do you do in a moment like that”?
The main players in the SCLC quickly followed Kind to the hospital leaving Jesse Jackson behind in shock. However, it was the tragedy of King’s death that the star of Jesse Jackson was born. Media quickly swarmed the hotel where King had been shot and they quickly focused on the young SCLC member with King’s blood all over his shirt. With the rest of the SCLC off at the hospital Jesse became the media spokesman:

The black people’s leader, our Moses, the once in a 400 or 500-year leader has been taken from us by hatred and bitterness. Even as I stand at this hour, I_ I cannot even allow hate to enter my heart at this time, for it was sickness, not meanness, that killed him.
People were_ some were in pandemonium, some were in shock, some were crying, hollering, “Oh, God!” And I immediately started running upstairs to where he was and I caught his head and I tried to feel his head and I asked him, I said, “Dr. King, do you hear me? Dr. King, do you hear me?” And he didn’t say anything and I tried to hold his head. — Jesse Jackson

While the rest of SCLC was back at the motel trying to figure out the next step, Jesse Jackson quickly made his way back to Chicago where hours after King’s death he appeared on the Today show with his bloody shirt while a newly hired booking agent got him spots on other TV shows. Overnight Jesse Jackson became a nationally known figure of the civil rights movement.

Country in Mourning

The assassination led to a nationwide wave of riots in more than 60 cities. Five days later, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a national day of mourning for the lost civil rights leader. A crowd of 300,000 attended his funeral that same day. Vice-President Hubert Humphrey attended on behalf of Lyndon B. Johnson, who was meeting with several advisers and cabinet officers on the Vietnam War in Camp David.

The Lone Gunman?

Ray was the killer but that he didn’t act alone
Conclusion of U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations

Two months after King’s death, escaped convict James Earl Ray was captured at London Heathrow Airport while trying to leave the United Kingdom on a false Canadian passport in the name of Ramon George Sneyd. Ray was quickly extradited to Tennessee and charged with King’s murder, confessing to the assassination on March 10, 1969 (though he recanted this confession three days later). Later, Ray would be sentenced to a 99-year prison term.
On the advice of his attorney Percy Foreman, Ray took a guilty plea to avoid a trial conviction and thus the possibility of receiving the death penalty. Ray fired Foreman as his attorney (from then on derisively calling him “Percy Fourflusher”) claiming that a man he met in Montreal, Canada with the alias “Raoul” was involved, as was his brother Johnny, but not himself, further asserting that although he didn’t “personally shoot Dr. King,” hinting at a conspiracy he may have been “partially responsible without knowing it”. He spent the remainder of his life attempting (unsuccessfully) to withdraw his guilty plea and secure the trial he never had.
There was much attention devoted to the identity of Raoul and the involvement of Ray’s brother, Jerry Ray. One book by William Bradford Huie, They Slew The Dreamer, labels Raoul as George Ben Edmondson. Edmondson was a convict who learned computer programming in a Jefferson City prison and escaped eventually making his way to Canada where he worked for the West German Pavilion at Expo ’67 in Montreal. Nothing else was made of the connection and Edmondson was released and returned to Canada but the media attention by the time of his release had died out and nothing was followed up. Edmondson himself saw the allegation as ridiculous. Another theory offered by a 1977 New Times magazine article suggested that Jerry Ray (James’ brother) and “Raoul” were one and the same. State prosecutors in Memphis claimed to have investigated Raoul and did find the individual but insisted that he had nothing to do with the killing and was working on the day he was shot.
U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations investigated the Kennedy and King assassinations released a report in 1978 that Ray was the killer but that he didn’t act alone. They concluded that a group of white supremacists in St. Louis, reportedly with a $50,000 bounty on King’s head, might have been involved, too. The house committee’s full report is sealed until the year 2029.

On June 10, 1977, shortly after Ray had testified to the House Select Committee on Assassinations that he did not shoot King, he and six other convicts escaped from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Petros, Tennessee. They were recaptured on June 13 and returned to prison. More years were then added to his sentence for attempting to escape from the penitentiary. Ray died in prison on April 23, 1998, at the age of 70 from complications related to kidney disease, caused by hepatitis C probably contracted as a result of a blood transfusion given after a stabbing while at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. It was also confirmed in the autopsy that he died of liver failure.

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Elizabeth Eckford at Little Rock

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Behind the camera: Will Counts
Where: Outside the Little Rock Central High School
Photo Summary: Elizabeth Eckford followed by an angry mob. Mary Ann is on the far left. Olen Spann is wearing the hat Sammie Dean, in the dark dress is turning to talk to her father. Hazel Bryan is the one shouting ‘Go home, n#$ger! Go back to Africa!’ Standing behind Hazel is Lonnie Ward, the man with the unbuttoned V-neck is unknown but man with the striped shirt partially blocked by Elizabeth is Richard Stinnett. To the right of the image the woman and man with the camera are unknown
Picture Taken: September 4, 1957

On September 4, 1957, Elizabeth Eckford put on her new dress, made by her, and made her way to Little Rock Central High School. The 4th was to be her first class and her and 8 other Black children were to be the first African-Americans in the school of 2000 white students. She was excited to start classes but as she approached the school she saw a huge crowd protesting her presence. As she approached the school National Guard men, again and again, refused to allow her past them and so she turned to leave but was immediately surrounded by an angry white mob who shouted obscenities as she disparately tried to navigate through the crowd. As she walked in terror photographer Will Counts snapped this iconic image of her.

Coming to school

Elizabeth Eckford

Colourized by Marina Amaral

Three years earlier the American Supreme Court handed down Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 decision to integrate the South’s school system. Days later the Little Rock school board said it would comply but by 1957 it was still stalling efforts to enroll black students in white schools. On September 3, 1957, federal judges ordered the State to begin desegregation and that night the director of the Arkansas chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., Daisy Bates called the nine black students the group had chosen to be “strong enough to survive the ordeal but placid enough not to make trouble” to come to her house the next day. Then from her house, they would go as a group to the school. Eckford, one of the nine, didn’t have a phone and so never got the notice to meet and Bates’ house.

However, events were moving against the nine as the Governor seeking to thwart any effort of desegregation had called in the National Guard and had them ring the school. Publicly he said that they were there to prevent any violence but they were really present to stop the Black children from entering school grounds.

The Mob

The next day Elizabeth Eckford boarded the bus that took her downtown to the Little Rock Central High School. Getting off at 12th and park she walked toward the school. Guards at the entrance denied her access and then the crowd of several hundred angry white protesters saw her and someone in the crowd shouted out at her to go home. She tried three more times to enter the school each time blocked by the rifles of the National Guard. In Daisy Bates’ book The Long Shadow of Little Rock: A Memoir she interviewed Eckford who recalls:

For a moment all I could hear was the shuffling of their feet. Then someone shouted, ‘Here she comes, get ready!’ I moved away from the crowd on the sidewalk and into the street. If the mob came at me I could then cross back over so the guards could protect me.
The crowd moved in closer and then began to follow me, calling me names. I still wasn’t afraid. Just a little bit nervous. Then my knees started to shake all of a sudden and I wondered whether I could make it to the center entrance a block away. It was the longest block I ever walked in my whole life.

By now over 250 angry protesters were shouting racial epitaphs and calling for her to be lynched to the nearest tree. Looking just to escape she walked towards the next bus stop down the block hoping the crowd would let her get on board. One of the most aggressive of the crowd was a student of Central High, Hazel Bryan. Hazel was there with her friends Mary Ann Burleson (girl on the far left with the purse) and Sammie Dean Parker (dark dress with head turned). Mary Ann and Sammie Dean were just enjoying the action but to Hazel, she felt that chasing Eckford away was her moral duty! Benjamin Fine another photographer there recording the scene remembers that she was “screaming, just hysterical!”

Finally, she reached the bus stop and sat down on the bench. Reporters formed an informal ring to protect her from the mob one Robert Schakne of CBS News tried to interview her but she refused to speak. Finally, after 35min sitting and taking the verbal abuse the bus came and she went right to her mother’s work where she collapsed into her arms.


The next day Eckford for the first time went to N.A.A.C.P. director Daisy Bates’ house and laid into the woman “Why did you forget me?” Bates would later recall the “cold hatred” directed at her from Eckford’s eyes. For two weeks the nine black students who were supposed to enter the school stayed at home waiting their fate. Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s picture flashed around the world showing up in Papers everywhere from Moscow to the Vatican. Eckford got letters, calls and well wishes from people as far away as Japan.

Two weeks later another date was set on September 23. This time all the Black students assembled at Bates’ house and they moved as a group to the school. This time there were able to get in easily as the mob was distracted by some whites beating on a group of black reporters.

Even though the students had finally gained entry their battle wasn’t over. Every day the faced harassment, no more so that Eckford who as school records revealed was attacked almost every day before she just stopped reporting them. The Black nine though stuck it out but the white establishment fought back by shutting down the school rather than have more blacks join and for the 1958/59 school year it was closed. Eckford was forced to flee the city to St Louis to finish her high school.

Elizabeth Eckford

While at the segregated Horace Mann Junior High School Elizabeth was a rapid reader and got good grades. She was already something of a loner before she went through the incredibly emotionally draining events Little Rock. After the incident, she was withdrawn and lived her something of hermit life. After spending 5-years in the army she returned to Little Rock having two children and suffering severe depression. She avoided speeches and anniversaries about the incident and when she did speak she would have a bag ready in case she threw up or she would come down with panic attacks and forced to leave suddenly. Through a successful medication routine, she was able to get a handle on her depression which had a long history in her family.

Elizabeth suffered further tragedy when in 2003 her son Erin Eckford at the age 26 was shot down by police after refusing to drop his assault weapon. Erin had inherited his families mental sickness and Elizabeth feared that his death was “suicide by police”. The officers involved were later cleared in the shooting.

Elizabeth and Hazel

The picture joined the two girls together and they would find that their lives would be synced for the rest of their days. In 1963 Hazel had an epiphany and renounced her racist ways even calling Elizabeth Eckford on the phone and apologizing. Eckford accepted it and even became sort of protective of her. For decades they didn’t talk but as the racial crisis faded Hazel began to seek out Eckford in an effort to seek some sort of repentance. The two even took a picture together in front of the school in 1997, again by Will Counts. Again in the limelight, Hazel seemed to enjoy her newfound celebrity much to the chagrin of Eckford. In Sept 2007 Vanity Fair did an exhaustive, in-depth story about their on and off again relationship

Will Counts

Counts was born in America’s south and worked as a photographer-editor for The Arkansas Democrat in Little Rock and for The Associated Press in Chicago and Indianapolis. His 1957 iconic image of Elizabeth Eckford at Little Rock was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for photographs in 1957 and it was “named by The Associated Press as one of the top 100 photographs of the 20th century.”

He went back to College to earn an education degree before returning to get his master’s and doctoral degrees from Indiana University. He taught at Indiana University for 32 years, retiring in 1995. He also wrote a few books including The Magnificent 92 Indiana Courthouses, Revised Edition and A Life Is More Than a Moment, 50th Anniversary: The Desegregation of Little Rock’s Central High

On October 7, 2001, he died of cancer at the age of 70 in Bloomington, Indiana.

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Flower Power

Buy on amazonflower power by Bernie Boston
Behind the camera: Bernie Boston
Where: One of the last big protest marches on the Pentagon
Photo Summary: 18 years old George Harris placing flowers into the rifle barrels of National Guardsman
Picture Taken: October 21, 1967

In late 1967 Bernie Boston was a reporter for the Washington Star a now-defunct newspaper. After he took this famous picture Star publishers didn’t see the value of the image and buried it the A section of their paper. Not deterred Bernie Boston sent the image out to various photo competitions which resulted in a number of awards, prizes, and international recognition.

Taking the photo

The end of the 60s saw a number of anti-Vietnam war protests. Covering one of the last big protests Bernie sat with his camera on a wall at the Mall Entrance to the Pentagon. While the protest neared the gates Bernie watched as a National Guardsman lieutenant marched a group of armed men into the sea of demonstrators. The squad formed a semi-circle, their guns pointed at the demonstrators.

In a 2006 interview, Bernie remembers thinking things could have got ugly when all of a sudden, “this young man appeared with flowers and proceeded . . . [to] put them down the rifle barrel,” Boston told National Public Radio. “And I was on the wall so I could see all this, and I just started shooting.”

While he knew he had a good picture the Star editors didn’t feel the same way and gave the picture minimal coverage. “The editor didn’t see the importance of the picture,” Boston said later. “We buried it … I entered it in contests, and it started winning everything and being recognized.”

Bernie Boston

A Washington, D.C. native Bernie Boston was born May 18, 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression. He grew up in McLean, Virginia and found his calling early when he became a photographer for his high school newspaper and yearbook. Fast forward to university when he graduated with a degree in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He followed his education by in 1955 joining the army for three years. After his military service, he worked at Dayton Daily News in Ohio in 1963 and three years later joined the staff of the Washington Star, where he remained until the paper folded in 1981. When the Star went under he found work as a staff photographer in its Washington D.C. bureau. In 1994 Boston and his wife moved to Basye, Virginia where he published and she edited the Bryce Mountain Courier.

Not a photographer that is defined by the Flower Power image Bernie would over his career shoot a number of famous people of the era including every president from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton. In 1987 he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, in the spot news category, for his photograph of King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, at an unveiling of a bronze bust of her assassinated husband.

Bernie Boston died at his home in Basye on Tuesday, January 22, 2008. His wife released a statement that he died from complications of amyloidosis, a rare disease in which abnormal proteins build up in organs and tissues. He was 74 years old. Boston is survived by his wife, an aunt and two nieces.

George Harris

The young protester who captured the nature of the 60s protest movement turned out to be an 18 years old actor, George Edgerly Harris III, from New York on his way to California. He would later reveal that he was gay and took the stage name, Hibiscus. He co-founded a far-out, psychedelic, gay-themed cross-dressing troupe called The Cockettes. His life would be captured in the 2002 film of the same name made by David Weissman. Hibiscus died an early victim of the AIDS epidemic that struck the West coast gay community.

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I Have a Dream

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Behind the camera: AP Images
Where: Steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
Photo Summary: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Picture Taken: August 28, 1963

I have a dream!
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I Have a Dream” is the name given to the August 28, 1963, historic public speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when he spoke of his desire for a future where blacks and whites would coexist harmoniously as equals (I Have a Dream). The speech is seen as his crowning moment and one of the most Iconic moments of that time. The speech is often ranked as one of the greatest 20th-century speeches in America. Footage and pictures of the speech are still famous and the clip is used in movies and on TV to represent the civil rights movement in the ’60s.

Taking the photo

G.Marshall Wilson started the day with 6:00 AM walking through the crowds with four 35mm cameras. The cameras, film and other equipment weighed 38 lbs but that didn’t slow down Wilson. Around noon he had wandered over to the speaker’s platform in front of the Lincoln Memorial and climbed to the top of the elevated cameramen’s stand. Seeing the crowd spread out he had an idea for a photo. Walking back down he talked with King and his entourage and King always on the lookout for iconic photos jumped at the chance for a front page photo. Climbing to the top of the cameramen’s stand Wilson took a number of shots of King waving to the crowd. Space was limited so Wilson used a 24mm wide-angle lens on his 35mm camera.

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

The federal government had for years tried half-heartedly to pass some kind of civil rights bill that would grant equality to all Americans. It wasn’t until President John F. Kennedy tried to pass his bill on June 11, 1963, that a real attempt to give Blacks civil rights was undertaken. The bill was quickly blocked by southern representatives in Congress.
It was under this atmosphere that leaders from the civil rights movement planned a march to Washington to build political momentum behind the measure. Proposed by A. Philip Randolph and organized by him, Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King Jr. the march saw a joining of multiple parties who often were in disagreement. At first, the Kennedy Whitehouse was against the march as it might turn violent and hurt the passage of the bill. The organizers agreed to tone down the rhetoric and keep the more militant organizations in check but refused to cancel the march. Once he saw that he couldn’t stop it Kennedy supported the march but because of the concessions organizers gave Kennedy many prominent Black leaders were against it. Malcolm X called it the “Farce on Washington” and the Nation of Islam punished any members who attended.

Stay home. This will not be safe
Southern congressmen

Before the march there was an atmosphere and fear of potential violence, on one side Southern congressmen told their white female employees, “Stay home. This will not be safe.” and on the other, there was a fear that not enough people would show to show how much the public supported the goals of the march. These fears proved unfounded as almost a quarter of million people came to hear the speeches given that day, the largest demonstration in America at that point in time. Amongst the speakers were Martin Luther King Jr and many others who each got 15min to speak or perform. The speakers included SNCC leader John Lewis, civil rights figures such as Gordon Parks and Roy Wilkins, labor leaders such as Walter Reuther, clergy including Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle (the Archbishop of Washington, who made the invocation), Rabbi Uri Miller (President of the Synagogue Council of America) who gave the prayer, remarks by Rabbi Joachim Prinz (President of the American Jewish Congress), Archbishop Iakovos primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, author James Baldwin, film stars such as Charlton Heston, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, and Marlon Brando, nightclub stars Josephine Baker and Eartha Kitt, and singers such as Mahalia Jackson, Marian Anderson, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary and Bob Dylan (who performed after King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, as seen in the film No Direction Home)

Prepared Speech

Legend holds that King departed from his prepared text and began preaching on the fly, but he had delivered a similar speech incorporating some of the same sections in Detroit in June 1963, when he marched on Woodward Avenue with Walter Reuther and the Rev. C.L. Franklin. He had rehearsed other parts before the march.


  • Text and Audio of Speech Accessed Dec, 2006
  • AP IMAGES handles the copyright for the several images that day: AP “I Have a Dream” picture from behind and the AP “I Have a Dream” picture from the front

    Copyright of the Speech

    Because King distributed copies of the speech at its performance, there was controversy regarding the speech’s copyright status for some time. This led to a lawsuit, Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., Inc. v. CBS, Inc., which established that the King estate does hold copyright over the speech and had the standing to sue; the parties then settled. Unlicensed use of the speech or a part of it can still be lawful in some circumstances under the doctrine of fair use.

    While the recording King gave that day is considered a national treasure it is still copyrighted, like a song would be. This is why you can’t find a full copy on YouTube or even a government site. This is due to the British music publishing EMI Publishing house (In 2011 Sony Corp bought out EMI) and the King estate own the rights to the recording. If movies, documentaries want to use the speech they have pay. If you want a copy for yourself you have to buy the Martin Luther King Jr. – I Have a Dream DVD.

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  • Iraqi Mobile Production Facilities

    Behind the camera: A computer graphic based on sketches created from the description of mobile bio labs from Iraqi informant, Curveball
    Where: Federal Government
    Photo Summary: Iraq’s supposed mobile weapons of mass destruction vehicles
    Picture Taken: First shown February 5, 2003
    This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee

    After the 911 attacks, the hawks in the Bush Whitehouse pushed for the invasion and overthrow of the Saddam regime. In order to build international support to mount an invasion of Iraq the Secretary of State in the Bush administration, General Colin Luther Powell, gave a presentation on the status of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). The speech given at a plenary session of the United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003, was presented with Images of Iraq’s supposed WMD program including this image of Iraqi Mobile Production Facilities for biological weapons. The image was used by media around the world making it a household image.

    The Intelligence

    The reports of mobile biological weapons facilities emerged from supposed defectors of the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction program. The Whitehouse cited four sources that claimed the mobile units existed.
    The first reports came from an Iraqi defector, given the codename “curveball”, who came to Germany claiming asylum because he was accused by the Iraqi government of stealing money. In Nov 1999 Curveball changed his story claiming, to German intelligence agents, that he designed laboratory equipment to convert trucks into biological weapons laboratories. This intelligence was passed to the US who at that time were looking for evidence of mobile facilities.

    Even though British intelligence and other Iraqi defectors found much of Curveball’s testimony to be false, divisions of the CIA saw his accounts of the facilities supporting descriptions of mobile labs they found on the internet and even though foreign intelligence agencies and even other divisions of the CIA particularly the European division maintained that Curveball’s testimony was false, the account of the mobile weapon labs was still used in Powell’s speech.

    In February of 2002, the Iraqi National Congress (INC) provides Mohammad Harith who claims that on behalf of the Iraqi government he had purchased seven Renault refrigerated trucks so that they could be converted into mobile biological weapons laboratories. By May 2002 a “fabricator notice” is issued to the intelligence community concerning Harith’s testimony after the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) determined that the intelligence he provided was false and he been “coached by [the] Iraqi National Congress.” Even though the “fabricator notice” was sent out Mohammad Harith’s and Curveball’s discredited accounts of mobile labs were used in Powell’s speech.
    The third source that was quoted by Powell as credible testified in June 2001 that Iraq had mobile weapons labs. However, this source later recanted in October of 2003 directly contradicting his earlier testimony. The fourth source cited by Powell remains classified.
    US Intelligence was never able to photograph a mobile lab but through the eye witness accounts they pieced together determined that Iraq had, “perhaps 18 trucks that we know of.”

    Actual Text of the February 5, 2003 UN presentation

    One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq’s biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological agents.
    Let me take you inside that intelligence file and share with you what we know from eyewitness accounts. We have first-hand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails.

    Some of the other slides used to show the Iraqi mobile production facilities used to make biological agents.
    The trucks and train cars are easily moved and are designed to evade detection by inspectors. In a matter of months, they can produce a quantity of biological poison equal to the entire amount that Iraq claimed to have produced in the years prior to the Gulf War.
    Although Iraq’s mobile production program began in the mid-1990s, UN inspectors at the time only had vague hints of such programs. Confirmation came later, in the year 2000. The source was an eyewitness, an Iraqi chemical engineer who supervised one of these facilities. He actually was present during biological agent production runs. He was also at the site when an accident occurred in 1998. 12 technicians died from exposure to biological agents.
    He reported that when UNSCOM was in country and inspecting, the biological weapons agent production always began on Thursdays at midnight, because Iraq thought UNSCOM would not inspect on the Muslim holy day, Thursday night through Friday.
    He added that this was important because the units could not be broken down in the middle of a production run, which had to be completed by Friday evening before the inspectors might arrive again.
    This defector is currently hiding in another country with the certain knowledge that Saddam Hussein will kill him if he finds him. His eyewitness account of these mobile production facilities has been corroborated by other sources.
    A second source. An Iraqi civil engineer in a position to know the details of the program confirmed the existence of transportable facilities moving on trailers.
    A third source, also in a position to know, reported in summer, 2002, that Iraq had manufactured mobile production systems mounted on road-trailer units and on rail cars.
    Finally, a fourth source. An Iraqi major who defected confirmed that Iraq has mobile biological research laboratories in addition to the production facilities I mentioned earlier.
    We have diagrammed what our sources reported about these mobile facilities. Here you see both truck and rail-car mounted mobile factories. The description our sources gave us of the technical features required by such facilities is highly detailed and extremely accurate.
    As these drawings, based on their description show, we know what the fermenters look like. We know what the tanks, pumps, compressors and other parts look like. We know how they fit together, we know how they work, and we know a great deal about the platforms on which they are mounted.
    As shown in this diagram, these factories can be concealed easily — either by moving ordinary looking trucks and rail-cars along Iraq’s thousands of miles of highway or track or by parking them in a garage or a warehouse or somewhere in Iraq’s extensive system of underground tunnels and bunkers.
    We know that Iraq has at least seven of these mobile, biological agent factories. The truck-mounted ones have at least two or three trucks each. That means that the mobile production facilities are very few — perhaps 18 trucks that we know of. There may be more. But perhaps 18 that we know of. Just imagine trying to find 18 trucks among the thousands and thousands of trucks that travel the roads of Iraq every single day.
    It took the inspectors four years to find out that Iraq was making biological agents. How long do you think it will take the inspectors to find even one of these 18 trucks without Iraq coming forward as they are supposed to with the information about these kinds of capabilities.
    Ladies and gentlemen, these are sophisticated facilities. For example, they can produce anthrax and botulism toxin. In fact, they can produce enough dry, biological agent in a single month to kill thousands upon thousands of people. A dry agent of this type is the most lethal form for human beings.


    One of the trucks the US initially claimed was a mobile bio weapons lab facility

    Shortly after the war, US forces did find some trucks that appeared to be mobile bio-weapons facilities. A press release was quickly sent out backing this point
    up and numerous Whitehouse officials, including Bush, claimed these were the mobile bio labs that Colin Powell was talking about in his UN speech:

    We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They’re illegal. They’re against the United Nations resolutions, and we’ve so far discovered two.– President Bush

    It soon emerged that the two trailers discovered were in fact not mobile weapons labs and an official report was released that gave the reasons why the discovered trucks could not be the bio lab trailers:

  • There was a critical absence of instrumentation for process monitoring and control of the process.
  • The positioning of the inlets and outlets on the reactor would make even the most basic functions (such as filling completely, emptying completely, and purging completely the vessel) either impractical or impossible to perform.
  • The lack of the ports required to introduce reagents would exacerbate this problem. These aspects of the design alone would render fermentation almost impossible to control.
  • The low-pressure air storage system capacity would be inadequate to provide the volume of compressed air required to operate the fermentation process over a complete aerobic production cycle. In addition, it would not be practical to charge and use the existing compressed gas storage with nitrogen or carbon dioxide for anaerobic fermentation. Similarly, the collection system for effluent gas would be wholly inadequate to deal with the volume of effluent gas produced during a complete production cycle.
  • Harvesting any product would be difficult and dangerous.
  • Back View

    The trucks were in fact what the Iraqi’s claimed them to be for, the production of hydrogen to fill balloons to determine target adjustments for long-range artillery targets. The original technology had been in fact sold to Saddam by a British company, Marconi Command & Control which sold the Iraqi army the Artillery Meteorological System, in 1987.

    After the Speech

    Even the day before the speech Powell and his longtime deputy Larry Wilkerson had doubts on the mobile bio labs. Larry Wilkerson remembers that “Powell and I were both suspicious because there were no pictures of the mobile labs [but the CIA] said: ‘This is it, Mr. Secretary. You can’t doubt this one,'” Powell was later asked to resign and did, announcing his resignation as Secretary of State on Monday, November 15, 2004. In 2005 he told Barbara Walters that he feels, “terrible” about giving the speech and when asked if it tarnished his reputation, Powell said, “Of course it will. It’s a blot. I’m the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world, and [it] will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It’s painful now.” On Sept 13, 2004, he told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that the intelligence that made up the speech he gave to the UN in 2003 was flawed and that it was, “unlikely that we will find any stockpiles” of WMDs in Iraq.

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    Bush – Mission Accomplished

    President Bush after landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln. He made the landing with a pilot, a secret service agent and a reserve pilot.
    Behind the camera: Press Pool
    Where: Flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln which was 30 miles from the coast of California
    Photo Summary: George W. Bush giving his famous speech announcing the end of ‘major combat operations’ in the 2003 War on Iraq.
    Picture Taken: May 1, 2003

    In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed
    -President Bush in his speech under the banner

    On May 1, 2003 George W. Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln a Lockheed S-3 Viking (Navy One had been painted on the side), where he gave a speech announcing the end of major combat operations in the War on Iraq. Clearly visible in the background was a banner stating “Mission Accomplished.” Bush critics pointed to the seemingly premature declaration the war over as evidence of the arrogance and lack of planning in the Iraq War. The mission was in fact just beginning as major combat operations hadn’t ended American military casualties. After the speech casualties grew and eventually exceeded those killed before the speech. The controversy surrounding the speech and the banner in the background made video clips and pictures of the speech famous.

    Where Did The Banner Come From?

    As criticism mounted the White House who had in the Lincoln speech and other press releases implied that the war was over, backpedalled stating that they didn’t mean to imply that the Iraq War was over and that the Navy had, in fact, put the banner up for a totally different reason. As Navy Commander and Pentagon spokesman Conrad Chun put it, the banner referred specifically to the aircraft carrier’s 10-month deployment (which was the longest deployment of a carrier since the Vietnam War) and not the war itself “It truly did signify a mission accomplished for the crew.”
    The White House claimed that the banner was requested by the crew of the ship. Afterwards, the administration and naval sources stated that the banner was the Navy’s idea, White House staff members made the banner, and it was hung by U.S. Navy personnel. White House spokesman Scott McClellan told CNN “We took care of the production of it. We have people to do those things. But the Navy actually put it up.” The White House when further pressed by TIME magazine was forced to admit that they made the banner and hung it up but still clung to the line that it had been done at the request of the crew members.


    The event was criticized by many as premature — especially later as the guerrilla war began to take its toll. Subsequently, the White House released a statement saying that the sign and Bush’s visit referred to the initial invasion of Iraq. Bush’s speech noted:
    “We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We are bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous.” However, the speech also said that “In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”

    President Bush after landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln. He made the landing with a pilot, a secret service agent and a reserve pilot.

    For critics of the war, the photo-op became a symbol of the administration’s unrealistic goals and perceptions of the conflict. Anti-war activists questioned the integrity and realism of George W. Bush’s “Major combat” statement. The banner came to symbolize the irony of the President giving a victory speech only a few weeks after the beginning of a relatively long war. Many in the administration came to regret the slogan. Some even going so far as to edit the White House website’s official video of the speech that Bush made on the aircraft carrier, cropping the video to conceal the “Mission Accomplished” banner.

    The Jet Landing

    Before the speech, Bush made a historic jet landing on the carrier, the first by a sitting president. While the president was a former pilot in the National Guard he did not land the plane, leaving the dangerous carrier landing to Navy Cmdr. John Lussier. At the time it was criticized by opponents as an overly theatrical and expensive stunt. For instance, they pointed to the fact that the carrier was well within the range of Bush’s helicopter, and that a jet landing was not needed. Originally the White House had stated that the carrier was too far off the California coast for a helicopter landing and a jet would be needed to reach it. It was later revealed that on the day of the speech, the Lincoln was only 30 miles from shore but the administration still decided to go ahead with the jet landing. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer admitted that the president “could have helicoptered, but the plan was already in place. Plus, he wanted to see a landing the way aviators see a landing.” The Lincoln waited offshore while the President slept before it returned to its home base in Everett, Washington on May 6, 2003.

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