By Ben Wheeler
A STUNNING series of photographs depicting key players and moments in the American Civil Rights movement have been expertly colourised to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
The beautiful images, which are the work of Jared Enos and Mads Madsen, show leading political figures including John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X in portraits as never seen before.
Other snaps show the famous image of Ruby Bridges, the first black child to desegregate an all-white school, being escorted from the premises, whilst a further photo depicts an African-American woman giving a security guard, sporting the confederate flag, a menacing look at a civil rights rally.
Jared spoke of the significance of the images as well as the process of the painstaking colourisation process.
“The civil rights movement is, without question, one of the most important movements to have taken place in the United States, if not the western world,” he said.
“It saw a complete change in social status for African Americans and the radical shift is illustrated in the collection of images which show the highs and lows encountered by the movement.
“Every photo presents its own unique challenge, particularly close-ups and portraits, but I invested a lot of time and effort into them all.
“I love photography that frames a moment that can’t adequately be expressed in words, such as the image of the segregated water fountain, which I find really striking and frankly outrageous.
“Although it was a different time it still amazes me that there was so much effort spent just to spite a group of people who they felt to be inferior.”
The Civil Rights Act of 1957, originally proposed by then Attorney General Herbert Brownell, was signed into law on the 9th September by President Eisenhower and was the first major piece of legislation of its kind since the Civil War over three quarters of a century earlier.
The laws gave Eisenhower’s government new powers to fight discrimination and to expand voting rights and protections, ensuring that all African Americans could exercise their right to vote.
It is said that the 1957 act kick-started the civil rights legislative programme that lead to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act, but perhaps most importantly signalled a growing federal commitment to the civil rights cause.
Pictures like this are featured in a new book on iconic colourised photographs called Retrographic, by author Michael D. Carroll. The book is currently available to preorder on amazon for £19.95