“The police and firemen used a brute show of force to try to stop the ongoing demonstrations. It didn’t work on this day. Rather than fleeing, the protestors hung on to each other and were able to stand up to the full fury of the water, though not without casualties. I have never witnessed such cruelty. There was almost as much moisture behind the lens as in front. I gave a print of this picture to Dr. King. He studied it and said, ‘I am startled that out of so much pain some beauty came.”
Bob Adelman (1930-2016)
The photograph was taken in Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. Birmingham was one of the most ethnically divided cities in the U.S.; according to Martin Luther King, it was the most segregated city. The Birmingham movement was a model of nonviolent direct action protest and organised to bring attention to the black Americans fighting for integration. So it did. It drew the world's attention to segregation with the help of images like Adelman's. Charles Moore' photographs of school children being hit by high-pressure water were printed in Life (via).
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