Segregated Society: Mississippi, 1959-1964

New Photos from the Harvey Richards Media Archive

Segregated Society

Poll Tax Sign, Mississippi, 1963.

Over the last few weeks and months, the Harvey Richards Media Archive has undergone an internal reshuffling of both film and photo holdings. After three years of bringing materials to the internet from the photography of Harvey Richards, it became clear to me that there was a vast hidden treasure of photos and films lurking inside the archive boxes that make up the photo collection. It was time to re-inventory and take stock of things. My oldest grandson, Nicholas Richards, paid me a visit on his and his family’s way to a vacation in Hawaii, providing me with some extra muscle and more than a little incentive to dig into the old boxes and bring some order and light onto the long unseen images and films in the archive. Our work brought a treasure trove of new materials to the surface.

The first offering from all this is the gallery of new photos “Segregated Society: Mississippi, 1959-1964.” The Archive had already presented photos from Harvey’s 1959 photos taken during his tour of the south. This collection has now doubled in size. The new gallery offers a selection of previously unpublished images from Harvey’s photography during his three trips to Mississippi during the years from 1959 to 1964.

“Everything that you heard on television or on newsreels was terribly warped and twisted…. There was an enormous difference between the world I had seen with my eyes prior to the fifties and the world that I saw in the media. And…prior to my going to the deep south, Martin Luther King might get five seconds, six seconds, seven seconds on an evening news broadcast. The only thing you would get about the conditions of black people in the south would be a few words from the traditional talking head. You never, nobody took cameras into the homes, into the work places, into the fields in areas like that. That is the principal reason why I wanted to go there with a camera. Not to try to do something that was better than somebody else was doing.”  Harvey Richards, from Primary Source Documentaries.

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