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Richard Wright's 12 Million Black Voices: Photo And Text

2389 words - 10 pages

12 Million Black Voices by Richard Wright is a photo and text book which poetically tells the tale of African Americans from the time they were taken from Africa to the time things started to improve for them in a 149 page reflection. Using interchanging series of texts and photographs, Richard Wright encompasses the voices of 12 Million African-Americans, and tells of their sufferings, their fears, the phases through which they have gone and their hopes. In this book, most of the photos used were from the FSA: Farm Security Administration and a few others not from them. They were selected to complement and show the points of the text. The African-Americans in the photos were depicted with dignity. In their eyes, even though clearly victims, exists strengths and hopes for the future. The photos indicated that they could and did create their own culture both in the past and present. From the same photos plus the texts, it could be gathered that they have done things to improve their lives of their own despite the many odds against them. The photographs showed their lives, their suffering, and their journey for better lives, their happy moments, and the places that were of importance to them. Despite the importance of the photographs they were not as effective as the text in showing the African-American lives and how the things happening in them had affected them, more specifically their complex feelings. 12 Million Black Voices by Richard Wright represents the voice of African-Americans from their point of view of their long journey from Africa to America, and from there through their search for equality, the scars and prints of where they come from, their children born during these struggles, their journeys, their loss, and plight, and their fight for better lives.
In the photographs and texts shown before Lewis Hine, Most photos of poor people were shown differently. The people shown in the photographs were shown as if they were simply victims of circumstances who could do nothing to help their situations. They were shown to have no control over their lives. It was suggested that they had no ability to build their own culture, at least a positive one. Richard Wright in this regards was different. He showed both through the pictures he selected and the texts he wrote that African-Americans had the ability to create a culture, and a positive one at that. He displayed this in the first part of the book by telling the history of the land they were taken from, and about the culture they created in the South and the North of America through the first part to the third part of the book. Richard Wright writes, "We had our own civilization in Africa before we were captured and carried off to this land. You may smile when we call the way of life we lived in Africa "civilization", but in numerous respects the culture of many of our tribes was equal to that of the lands from which the slave captors came. We smelted iron, danced, made music, and recited...

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