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Envisioning Emancipation. Black Americans and the End of Slavery by Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer. Temple University Press.
The essay ‘Envisioning Emancipation. Black Americans and the End of Slavery’ is the first volume that supervises the 150th anniversary of emancipation in the U.S. The essay is signed by Deborah Willis (photo-historian) and Barbara Krauthamer (professor of slavery history).
The book shows 150 portraits of slaves, almost all of them unpublished. Fantastic portraits that reflect the aspirations of slave people, their desires of freedom and their fight. This is the main objective of the book: to demonstrate that slave population fought by their liberty in spite of the conclusions of previous books and they fought as much as Lincoln and abolitionist politicians. Then, these different portraits, going from 1850 to 1930, establish a timeline that lets you check the sad reality of the lives of those slaves. But also the development of a consciousness in their communities. Since the primary daguerreotypes serving as a symbol of self-affirmation, to the images of the terrible living and working conditions on the plantations.
The director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Thelma Golden, adds that the book “offers a bright and exciting look at the men and women who were affected by the historical event of emancipation.” And the curator of the International Center of Photography, Brian Wallis, has said that this is the first work “exhaustive” that explores the image of the black slaves, subjected to the “invisibility”.
Yes, the book has received fantastic critics because the portraits (taken normally by ex-slaves who wandered the streets renting their services as photographers) show a different look and intention that we are accustomed. In fact, the look of a hope.
Definitely, a great book for a great anniversary.