15 March 2008

Several Degrees of Separation: Reframing History

Photograph © Jack Thornell/AP World Wide

Today The Guardian ran a story entitled "Power to the People" by John Hoyland detailing some of the intramural politics among the 'left' in Britain in 1968. It starts by describing the violent, angry anti-war protests in numerous cities that year and then recounts a political exchange Hoyland had with John Lennon. All of that is fine and mildly interesting even if it does inaccurately reconstruct history to place celebrities in the middle.

Inexplicably, however, the story is accompanied by this photograph (taken 28 March 1968) which shows a Memphis policeman beating black protesters during the 1968 Sanitation Strike in that city. The strike was especially momentous because Martin Luther King Jr. was in Memphis in support of the strikers when he was assassinated. I guess I am wondering what view of history The Guardian folk are presenting.

Although King did speak eloquently against the war, he had nothing to do with the British politics Hoyland recounts. And the Memphis Strike was, until King was shot, still largely a local affair prompted by the exploitation of black workers.



Anonymous Scott Hughes said...

I think they probably used the picture just because it is a very powerful picture.

16 March, 2008 04:40  

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