Tuesday, February 16, 2016

New York Times' "Unpublished Black History"

A young Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr., high school
basketball star at Power Memorial Catholic during
the Catholic High School Athletic Association Championship, in 1965, 6 years before he became
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Don Hogan Charles)
I have been checking the New York Times every day to see what photographs and stories will be featured as part of its "Unpublished Black History" series, which it debuted this year for Black History Month. In essence, it is a catalogue of material, often newsworthy in some way, that nevertheless failed to make it into the paper. In some cases, the Times editors approach candor about why they did not publish the images or stories, but in other cases, some quite fascinating, they do not.

It's hard to know, lacking documentation of some sort (notes, audiotaped material, etc.) or the direct comments of the editors, writers and photographers themselves, why some of these key moments were passed over, but it also underlines the fact that even today, and not just with Black History, editorial choices of various kinds shape what makes it into the mainstream news and what gets complete passed over. As I view the photographs and read the brief entries, I keep wondering, what led to this story being skipped and others receiving coverage? This would be a great subject for the Times to devote one of its roundtables to.

A few images from the series, which you can find here (in reserve chronological order, going back to February 1):

Run-DMC performing at Madison Square Garden
in 1986 for an anti-crack benefit (Chester Higgins, Jr.)

Several photos (one by Allyn Baum at left) from the
unpublished Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. trove

Scholar Kenneth B. Clark at home in 1969, with his wife
and family, in Hastings-on-Hudson (Eddie Hauser)

Martina Arroyo, in 1965, during her run
in Verdi's Don Carlo (Sam Falk)

Some of the many photos, taken in 1972 by
Jack Manning, of James Baldwin;
only one of which ended up in the New York Times 
Protesters confronting police during
a 1964 march in Jackson, Mississippi, in
response to the assassination of civil rights
leader Medgar Evers (Claude Sitton)

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