What is this photo?
February 9, 2012 2:44 PM   Subscribe

What's the deal with this picture?

This picture has been floating around tumblr. According to this site, it is attributed to Eve Arnold, and is captioned "School for black civil rights activists; young girl being trained to not react to smoke blown in her face, Virginia, 1960".

Is this photo "authentic" (in that it depicts a school for civil rights activists, and this was part of training)? Where can I find out more about this school and the trainings provided? A forum I found suggested it was the Highlander Center, but that's in Tennessee. Most Google results are from Tumblr and don't have more information.
posted by quadrilaterals to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Eve Arnold was a Magnum Photographer; Magnum has this photo and others from the same series on their site.
posted by gyusan at 2:51 PM on February 9, 2012

I don't know how much this helps, but more pictures from Eve Arnold's series on non-violence are viewable on Magnum Photos' site here.
posted by jabes at 2:52 PM on February 9, 2012

I'm not sure what you are asking- do you want to know if there was like an orginized school with a name and ciriculum? I kinda doubt it was that complicated. You might just need to read up on the whole Civil Rights Movement and Nonviolent protests in general to see how they operated and how they got the people to stick to the non violence.
posted by Blisterlips at 2:55 PM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The Magnum photo site lists the location as Petersberg, Virginia! Wikipedia reveals that the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was founded and headquartered there, and also that they took over operations for the Highlander Center:
When the state of Tennessee revoked Highlander's charter and confiscated its land and property in 1961, SCLC rescued the citizenship school program and added Septima Clark, Bernice Robinson, and Andrew Young to its staff. Under the innocuous cover of adult-literacy classes, the schools secretly taught democracy and civil rights, community leadership and organizing, practical politicals, and the strategies and tactics of resistance and struggle, and in so doing built the human foundations of the mass community struggles to come.
It looks like I'm looking for more information on the citizenship school movement. If anyone has more information confirming that this is what the photo depicts, or on citizenship schools, that would be great!
posted by quadrilaterals at 2:56 PM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

The caption from Magnum says, "USA. Virginia. Petersburg. Civil strike, Core group." I think, though, that they mean CORE instead of Core -- Congress of Racial Equality.
posted by Houstonian at 2:58 PM on February 9, 2012

I unfortunately don't have good references for this, just memory. During the fight for civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s, there were various attempts at nonviolent protest. One such protest was going to lunch counters such as Woolworth (a popular five and dime store), which had a whites-only policy. These "Negros" would simply sit and wait to be served. Frequently, whites who opposed integration would bother these protestors in various ways, such as blowing smoke in their faces, making loud noises, etc. (the subject of this photo.)

An example of this is found here.

I believe this photo is from training provided by CORE in how to handle such harassment.

This kind of protestor was typically high school or college age.
posted by blob at 3:53 PM on February 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think the Freedom Riders documentary on PBS includes some of this "harassment ignoring" training in action.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:53 PM on February 9, 2012

I have hazy recollection of seeing this picture as part of a story on SNCC. As others have said it was it was probably part of training to cope with harassment during sit-ins.
posted by X4ster at 8:01 PM on February 9, 2012

Response by poster: Yeah, I know it's for sit-ins and depicts traditional harassment of activists, but am looking for more information on the exact circumstances under which this particular photo was taken. CORE is a great lead, thanks!
posted by quadrilaterals at 6:44 AM on February 10, 2012

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