Hopes Betrayed: Veterans Return to Mississippi Segregation
In 1959, Harvey Richards went on a photographic journey that took him through the southern U.S. and three countries in Latin America, Mexico, Guatemala, and Columbia. Using a 35 mm Leica camera, he photographed rural Mississippi where the photos in this blog post were taken. At the time, the photos were not part of a plan to expose Mississippi segregation or to help the freedom movement. They are photos Harvey took while traveling alone through the state where he met and photographed the people and places that interested him. And this veteran wearing his Army jacket interested him.
Four years later, Harvey returned to Mississippi to meet another army veteran, Amzie Moore, who was fighting to win the right to vote for African Americans as a leader of the NAACP in Cleveland, Mississippi. Two films resulted from his collaboration with Amzie in 1963 and 1964. These 1959 photos, as well as the others presented on the Harvey Richards Media Archive web site, mark the beginning of a photographic project that would document the underlying forces that led to ending of segregation in the United States.
When African American veterans returned home from World War II, after risking their lives in the war against Nazism and Japanese imperialism, they found themselves living as second class citizens in Mississippi segregation just the same as before they went to war. They rebelled against the injustice and violence directed against them. Harvey Richards took his cameras to places that needed some good press and lent his efforts to helping them in their struggles for freedom. The Harvey Richards Media Archives presents his photography and films of this period, as well as the story of how his southern films were made.