9 Iconic Photographs From African American History

TIME

The casual student of history might not look to Frederick Douglass for wisdom on the power of photography. The abolitionist is best known for his unmatched talent for oration, and when he died in 1895, the medium was still an evolving technology. But Douglass knew that photography had a quality that couldn’t always be found in other art forms. He touched on the transformative energy of the image when he wrote in 1864 that making pictures enables us to “see what ought to be by the reflection of what is, and endeavor to remove the contradiction.”

Douglass’ words introduce a selection of some of the most iconic photographs of African American history in the new book Through the African American Lens, curated by Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, slated to open next year in Washington, D.C. The book is the first in a series of…

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