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In defense of Western Civilization, an American soldier's hand rests on his gun in front of the Berlin Wall, Germany

In defense of Western Civilization, an American soldier's hand rests on his gun in front of the Berlin Wall, Germany

August 1961

Leonard Freed

(American, 1929-2006)

Vintage gelatin silver print

Image: 17.2 x 23.2 cm (6 3/4 x 9 1/8 in.); Paper: 17.2 x 23.2 cm (6 3/4 x 9 1/8 in.)

Gift of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg 2016.292

Description

Taking this photograph inspired Freed to return to the United States to commence a multiyear examination of African American life. It introduces his book Black in White America, and is accompanied by this statement: “We, he and I, two Americans. We meet silently and part silently. Between us, impregnable and as deadly as the wall behind him, is another wall. It is there on the trolley tracks. It crawls along the cobblestones, across frontiers and oceans, reaching back home, back into our lives and deep into our hearts: dividing us, wherever we meet. I am White and he is Black.”

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