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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Stars and Stripes and Civil Rights

Image of the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965
Photographed by Matt Herron

Photographer Matt Herron was in Jackson, Mississippi in 1965 where he captured images that won the World Press photo contest.

Anthony Quinn, five-years-old, had accompanied his mother, siblings and Dr. June Finer to see the Mississippi Governor. After their home had been firebombed a month earlier and they were "Protesting the fact that Mississippi senators had been elected without black representation."

Anthony Quinn, his family, and Dr. June Finer
protesting voting suppression in Mississippi, 1965

The group had been refused admittance, and they were waiting on the steps in protest. 

"No more police brutality."
Anthony Quinn photographed by Matt Herron.

The Jackson police were jailing protesters in the cattle stockades at the fairground. Earlier Dr. Finer, from the Medical Committee for Human Rights, attempted to enter the fairgrounds to provide medical assistance. She was blocked from entering and intended to get in the fairground by being arrested.

Patrolman Kohler taking
Anthony Quinn's American flag during a 1965 protest. 

Mississippi Highway Patrolman Hughie Kohler was photographed confiscating Anthony's ‘No More Police Brutality’ sign . . . 

Anthony Quinn reaching for his flag.
Photographed by Matt Derron in 1965.

and photographed snatching the boy's American flag. 

The Quinn family and Dr. Finer
Arrested in Montgomery.

The group was arrested and the photos went national. 

Anthony Quinn and Matt Herron 
at the 2014 Museum exhibition 
commemorating Freedom Summer 1964. 

Dr. Anthony Quinn passed away
 in 2015 from pancreatic cancer. He was fifty-five. 
Anthony and his sisters were the first black kids to integrate McComb public schools two years later. He told me it seemed like he had a fist fight every day he was in school, either defending his sisters or himself. . . . 

By his first year in high school, was facing juvenile detention — a fate his older sister saved him from by removing him to Chicago to live with her family.

Eventually Anthony earned a PhD in education administration and had served as a Department Head in Special Education, School Administrator at every level of K-12 education.

An obituary a few years earlier also referenced the photos. Patrolman Kohler's family wrote that Kohler had regretted that moment "for the rest of his life."

Police remove Civil Rights protester
while he clings to the Confederate flag.

The flags were an important symbol in the South. An American flag said very simply, "I would like the laws of the United States to be enforced in Mississippi." 

If you had a Confederate flag on your pickup truck, it said, "We like things the way they are." 

So people were pulled from cars and beaten on the highways in Mississippi because they had an American flag decal on their license plate frame. 

Matt Herron

The Soiling of Old Glory a Pulitzer Prize–winning photograph taken by Stanley Forman. 

Joseph Rakes attacks Ted Landsmark
Photograph by Stanley Forman 

In 1976, the year of the bicentennial celebrating 200 years of American freedom, Boston was experiencing an integration busing crisis. 

Ted Landsmark, a 29-year-old Yale-educated lawyer and civil rights activist was heading to a city hall for a meeting. 

Landsmark was knocked to the ground, and his nose was broken. 

Joseph Rakes, a 17-year-old from a South Boston neighborhood, had taken the family flag to the demonstration. 

Rakes, missed Landsmark with the flag and was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment and two years probation. The jail sentence was suspended.

[The flag is] a symbol of what we aspire to be as a democracy.

It is really an appropriate icon for all of us to look to as to what we want to be as opposed to what we sometimes have been.

Ted Landsmark

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