1/25/2009 - The Civil Rights Photography of Charles Moore - The Birmingham News

Birmingham in 1963:  Charles Moore's pictures on display at Jennifer Hunt Gallery 

Photojournalism is a major medium for recording modern history. From the Civil War photographs by Matthew Brady to current picture takers such as Charles Moore, who has recorded much of the civil rights movement, the photographer has used the camera for information and opinion making. Moore's photographs are clear and direct records of moments in time. He captures the moment with emotional focus and an unerring feeling for composition.

Charles Moore is a native Alabamian who is one of the most respected photojournalists of our time. His work has been featured in magazines and newspapers across the country. His photographs of the civil rights struggle have become some of the most telling images we have regarding those painful and terrible decades between Rosa Parks and Barack Obama. The struggle is not over, but it has changed to a civility that will, one hopes, mark the end to blind hatred and senseless cruelty.

From Montgomery to Birmingham, Selma to Oxford, Miss., Charles Moore recorded events that will remain an explicit and daring revelation of the past 50 years. There are those who would have the world forget these terrible early days of the civil rights struggle with the mantra, "that is all in the past, let us move on." But it is the past that remains the inexorable and constant teacher for the future. We must not forget, so that this lesson remains a vivid guide to the future.

Moore records events with an objective, yet passionate, perspective. He shows us the clubbing of men, women and children who participate in nonviolent protest, the use of fire hoses to strip clothing from defenseless people, of dogs ripping into crowds, of duly authorized forces trucked in to quell the marchers. These photos record the awful history of those times.

As painful as it is to see these images, to shut them away tempts fate. Racism is a terrible beast that can rise, like some mindless Phoenix, from its own ashes of ignorance.

As a civilization, we cannot allow that to happen.

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