New York Times launches month-long photography project to draw attention to black history
Throughout February, The New York Times will feature unpublished photos from its archives in honor of Black History Month.
The timely and reflective images are accompanied by short written pieces about race and history. The interactive project titled, “Unpublished Black History,” is meant to spark candid conversations about race among readers.
The Times is publishing photos on a daily basis, and readers can follow the project by signing up for an occasional newsletter. So far, posts have ranged from the close calls of Malcom X, to a mystery about Jackie Robinson, to Lena Horne’s struggle to find property in Manhattan as an African-American, to Run-DMC’s ‘Cry for Justice’.
The unreleased photos also include accounts of everyday life as an African-American in the United States. Many of the black and white photographs recount social justice topics and the often road-blocked journey towards Equal Rights.
As Poynter.org reports, “with ‘Unpublished Black History,’ the Times has found a way to show images and tell stories it hasn’t before, and often those stories are about what the newspaper missed.” The series’ introduction shares that “holes in coverage” could reflect “biases of some earlier editors … They and they alone determined who was newsworthy and who was not, at a time when black people were marginalized in society and in the media.”
To further encourage reader participation, the site features a contact box in which readers can send in comments, inquiries, photos, thoughts and memories of their family’s own unpublished black history.
At a time when news of the killing and unlawful treatment of black teens and adults has become a staple of weekly headlines, The New York Times has been a vocal participant in dialogues surrounding race relations in America today.
Less than a year ago, the newspaper produced two short documentaries, embedded below. In the first video, young men reflect on the challenges they encounter growing up black in America. In the second video, parents share the difficulties of having to tell their sons they may be targets of racial profiling.
In a similar way to Ta-Nehisi Coate’s “Between the World and Me” and Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen,” “Unpublished Black History” urges us to view black life in America in an honest light so we can better understand our nation’s history and struggles.