The photograph was taken by Richard Avedon in New York on 15 July 1975. It shows Anne Schwerner, Fannie Lee Chaney and Carolyn Goodman, mothers of slain civil rights workers. Their sons Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman were murdered on 21st of June 1964, known as the "Mississippi Burning murders". 41 years after the murders, one perpetrator was charged (via).
"The social paroxysms of the '60s changed, and darkened, Avedon's work. To a man so finely tuned to the Zeitgeist, how could they not? Photographing both civil-rights workers and segregationists in the South and, later, the antiwar movement, he ventured for the first time into political waters. At both Bazaar and Vogue, to which he moved in 1966, his editorial fashion work took on a brittle, sometimes critical edge: a shoot in Sicily is inspired by Antonioni's classic of ennui, "L'Avventura" and sends up the emptiness of high society. Three models in identical dresses fling themselves into the air in fits of manic laughter, an image of gleeful desperation. The Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton scandals are satirized in a witty mock-paparazzi scenario using Mike Nichols and Suzy Parker to play the press-hounded lovers." (via)
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