A Thousand Words

September 14, 2019

Trolley by Robert Frank

"Trolley -- New Orleans" by Robert Frank

Swiss-born photographer Robert Frank has died at 94. His iconic book, The Americans, had trouble finding a U.S. publisher at first because he saw his adopted country in a way that native Americans during the Eisenhower era were not yet prepared to see themselves. For example, this photo of a New Orleans trolley, taken in 1955, speaks volumes at a time when Jim Crow laws down South still required non-whites to sit in the back of public conveyances. (This photo was taken a few weeks before Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white person on a bus in Montgomery, AL.)  Decades later, Franks recalled, “One became aware of white cities, black people, no money, no hope. The noise. The violence. How brutal people were. A brutal country.” Frank is now recognized as a giant of 20th-century photography.
 

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