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book cover exploration #1: from black power to black studies

Black power front_cover

Over the next few weeks, I’ll discuss the covers to my books and Contexts. Today, I’ll start with From Black Power to Black Studies. Two comments:

  • This photograph was taken by Bill Owens. Bill is a highly regarded documentary photographer who is most famous for the book Suburbia. He was sent by Newsweek to cover the Black student protests at San Francisco State in 1968. I chose this photo because it represents the idea that a Black student movement exists inside a White majority institution. It also technically interesting in that he makes the “horizontal” crowd photo vertical. The photo was later republished in Bill Owens, a monograph dedicated to his work.
  • The cover design initially made me unhappy. I complained. But my editor, the amazing Jackie Wehmueller, insisted and pointed out that it alludes to the 1970s and it was funky. I relented and I am glad I did.

BSU fight

Bill also allowed me to reproduce this photograph. It is a rare image of a social movement group engaged in conflict with another group. In this case, the Black Student Union at San Francisco State College got upset that the student newspaper ran articles that were critical of them. The details remain unclear many years later, but the BSU students ended up at the student newspaper offices and a fight broke out. Bill, amazingly, just kept shooting photographs! Later, the student newspaper published some of these photos, which escalated the situation further and eventually led to the Third World Strike and the establishment of Ethnic Studies and Black Studies in America.

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Written by fabiorojas

June 1, 2018 at 4:32 am

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