Photographs, Film, and Video

I Have a Dream

<i>New York City</i> from <i>Black and White in America</i> Leonard Freed, 1963.  © Leonard Freed / Magnum Photos, Inc.

New York City from Black in White America, Leonard Freed, 1963. © Leonard Freed / Magnum Photos, Inc.

One night when I was 10, I sat down to do some homework, reading a speech in my history book. It was just another day, just another assignment.

But as I read this speech, I became confused and angry. Every day at school, I recited the Pledge of Allegiance, which promised that we in the United States are free and equal. All of us. And yet this speech was telling me otherwise.

As I kept reading, I had an awakening, a realization that the ideal world I’d grown up in wasn’t so perfect. I realized that the ideas behind our country’s founding were just that—ideas. They were dreams, hopes. Not reality. Not yet, at least.

But as I continued to read, my anger changed to hope, to a sense that the dream could become a part of the real America. And I knew I would have to make sure that I did my part to make it so.

It’s the 47th anniversary of the March on Washington, where Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Photographer Leonard Freed was there on that day, capturing the historic moment in the capitol. Seeing his pictures in the exhibition Engaged Observers: Documentary Photography since the Sixties reminded me of that shiver of awakening 30 years ago. You can see more of Freed’s work during this period in his pioneering photo essay Black in White America.

Much has changed. But these images, and today’s anniversary, remind me that we all still have work to do.

<i>Washington, D.C.</i> from <i>Black and White in America</i> Leonard Freed, 1963.  © Leonard Freed / Magnum Photos, Inc.

Washington, D.C. from Black in White America, Leonard Freed, 1963. © Leonard Freed / Magnum Photos, Inc.

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      Olympian Census #4: Aphrodite

      Get the stats on your favorite (and not-so-favorite) gods and goddesses on view at the Getty Center.

      Roman name: Venus

      Employment: Goddess of Love and Beauty

      Place of residence: Mount Olympus

      Parents: Born out of sea foam formed when Uranus’s castrated genitals were thrown into the ocean

      Marital status: Married to Hephaestus, the God of Blacksmiths, but had many lovers, both immortal and mortal

      Offspring: Aeneas, Cupid, Eros, Harmonia, Hermaphroditos, and more

      Symbol: Dove, swan, and roses

      Special talent: Being beautiful and sexy could never have been easier for this Greek goddess

      Highlights reel:

      • Zeus knew she was trouble when she walked in (Sorry, Taylor Swift) to Mount Olympus for the first time. So Zeus married Aphrodite to his son Hephaestus (Vulcan), forming the perfect “Beauty and the Beast” couple.
      • When Aphrodite and Persephone, the queen of the underworld, both fell in love with the beautiful mortal boy Adonis, Zeus gave Adonis the choice to live with one goddess for 1/3 of the year and the other for 2/3. Adonis chose to live with Aphrodite longer, only to die young.
      • Aphrodite offered Helen, the most beautiful mortal woman, to Paris, a Trojan prince, to win the Golden Apple from him over Hera and Athena. She just conveniently forgot the fact that Helen was already married. Oops. Hello, Trojan War!

      Olympian Census is a 12-part series profiling gods in art at the Getty Center.


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