Smithsonian.com, by Jackie Mansky, November 18, 2016
Public historian Mark Speltz’s new book is full of images that aren’t typically part of the 1960s narrative
What images evoke the Civil Rights Movement? The struggle for equality is seen in photos of young African-Americans sitting at the Woolworth’s counter in Greensboro, Dr. King leading marchers from Selma, or Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery. Each of these iconic images relays an important moment of the story of Civil Rights in the South.
But the story is different in the North and the West, which lacks that kind of immediately iconic imagery. Not that there aren’t photographic counterpoints to the Southern stories; rather, these images have been missing from the boilerplate Civil Rights narrative. “If a kid opens a book today and finds the first photos of the North, they’re normally Dr. King in Chicago in ’65, ’66, and then riots and rebellions,” says public historian Mark Speltz.
In his new photography book, North of Dixie: Civil Rights Photography Beyond the South, Speltz actively works to upend that narrative. Instead of focusing on the main touchstones of the movement in the South, he looks past that region to flesh out how the movement was conceived and led throughout the rest of the country.