Wednesday, April 3, 2013

This Is the Day ~ Leonard Freed review

This Is the Day: The March on Washington
J Paul Getty Museum
February 5, 2013
128 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon
Getty page for the book

Tomorrow, April 4th, it will be 45 years ago that Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. It's another anniversary, however, that is marked in This Is the Day: The March on Washington: the 50th anniversary of August 28, 1963's March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

There's a foreword by Julian Bond that helps provide some historical background on the march's conception as well the behind the scenes preparations. It's only about four pages, but there was a lot in it that I did not know and found both informative and interesting. (Some can, of course, be blamed on my previous limited knowledge.)

The essay is by Eric Michael Dyson, author (of Holler If You Hear Me, among others) and Georgetown Sociology professor. He does a fantastic job of explaining how significant seemingly small things about the march were. Things that were obvious to those present and some now, but not to everyone. He also draws great parallels between the events - not just of that day - fifty years ago and those of today.

Besides giving me new information on things I thought I already knew about, it also presented things differently and/or in combination with things I hadn't thought about before. This Is the Day is a photo-essay, but its essay essay is great.

I appreciated Paul Farber's afterword for the bit of insight it provided into the artist and the taking of the photographs.

I should probably get to the photographs as This Is the Day is a photo-essay, right? Freed's photographs are a fantastic example of photojournalism. While there are also great, current examples, to be sure, there's something about black and white photography that I love. His composition is also really, really good. Shots are framed fantastically, even those that had to have been taken quickly.

The photographs on pages 18 and 19, each with the Washington Monument in the background, though quite differently have interesting composition and focus.

Freed was really in the midst of what was happening that day and you really get a view of who was there and what was happening. Much more so than from anyone who might have stood on the periphery looking in. I really like the the photographs are from the entire day, from before, during and after the march -- it captures the entire day, not only the energetic feeling of the 'while.'

The set of pictures from the 1983 march are a great inclusion, too.

My only critique of the book, interestingly enough, actually arose partially based on information in Dyson's essay. He talks about how they didn't include women . . . which helped me to realize that Getty Publications had no women contribute to This Is the Day.

As an aftersound if you will, I have a woman as my soundtrack song for this book:

Symphony Of Brotherhood feat Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr - Mri Ben-Ari


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