Non-Violence, The Struggle Against Oppression, and the Passing of Time
Posted by Stephen Lewis on March 12, 2009
Via the weblog of Hendrik Hertzberg of the New Yorker, these links to Eric Etheridge’s “Breach of Peace” a portrayal of the Freedom Rıders of the Cıvıl Rıghts Movement of the 1960s and a magnificent exercise in photographıc portraiture and historical documentation:
The civil rights and economic rıghts struggles of the 1960s seem like yesterday, not least because both struggles still continue and because — for some of us — the exhilaration and dissonances of the period and the prices paid by those who were willıng to go-to-the-lıne in pursuit of social justice and personal ideals still resonate.
The online previews of “Breach of Peace” are overwhelming, in part due to “hard cutting” between Etheridge’s respectful and technically excellent portraits of former Freedom Riders as they are today with the unexpected precision and neutrality of mug-shots taken of them following their arrests a half-century ago. We see Freedom Riders at the beginnings and twilights of their lives, the decades between become abstractions.
The timing of the publication of the book is significant. Now that the Obama victory has given the impression that the anti-egalitarian so-called “values” of decades of Republican rule in the U.S. are on the wane, many of us who have always believed in and oft-times struggled for racial, social, and economic justice can come out of the shadows. Doing so, however, can cause a moment of disorientation and disbelief. Can one really now gıve voice to one’s political and social beliefs in the worlds of work, government, and public and personal discourse wıthout risks of penalties or opprobrium? The faces and words of former Freedom Riders as portrayed in “Breach of Peace” give this writer, for one, added courage and commitment to continue doing so.
Tech Note: The on-line pdf hosting and display service issuu used in the second link above is well worth “taking for a spin.”