Monday, November 1, 2010


25 Photographs Every American Should Know

October 26th, 2010
There's a lot to grumble about regarding the state and quality of education in this country right now, but there are some things that every American should know about its history. Beyond the Preamble and the first president, things like the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement and the weighty debate over issues in the modern military are also important parts of our culture that will help us to make responsible, beneficial changes for our future. And a good way to study American history — whether you're in high school, getting amaster's degree or just want to review some of the country's biggest moments — is by looking at old photographs. Here are 25 photographs every American should know.
  1. Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima: This photograph is one of the most famous in American history and was taken on February 23, 1945, by Joe Rosenthal. Five U.S. Marines and a Navy corpsman were given the responsibility to raise the flag a second time that day, after the first had been captured by the Japanese during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Three of the soldiers survived and became celebrities when they returned to the U.S., and influenced a song by Johnny Cash, a film by Clint Eastwood, and a sculpture at the Arlington National Cemetery. It's also the only photograph to win a Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year as its initial publication.
  2. Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan: This photo depicts the African American student Elizabeth Eckford — known as one of The Little Rock Nine — as she heads to school after it has been integrated. Eckford missed a message to meet with the other black students so that they wouldn't have to brave the angry crowd alone, and in the photo, you can see Eckford calmly — but troublesomely — walking past as the mob — especially a young Hazel Bryan — jeers and shouts at her.
[Graphic] Photo 7 with link to higher quality photo.
  1. Kent State: One of the most iconic photographs of the Vietnam War era, the Kent State photo was taken by an undergraduate named John Filo. A completely distraught, helpless-looking Mary Vecchio weeps over the dead body of a classmate, who had been shot by National Guardsmen during a protest on campus. Her emotion captures the anger and violent confusion of the era, and the photo won Filo a Pulitzer.

  1. V-J Day, Times Square: This celebratory photograph can be found framed on dorm room walls, on calendars and seemingly everywhere else. Taken in 1945 after the announcement of victory in Japan during WWII, nurse Edith Shain was kissed by a stranger — a sailor with great form. When she was 90 years old, Shain told the New York Daily News that "she regretted never getting the dashing sailor's number." But besides the joke, this photograph shows the impulsive passion, relief and excitement after a nation pushed through war.

  1. Destitute peapickers in California: Dorothea Lange is one of the most important documenters of The Great Depression, and her photographs of migrant families and farm workers show the true desperation — and dignity — of a disoriented population. This photo in the Migrant Mother series was taken in February of 1936 and features a 32-year-old mother surrounded by her seven camera-shy children. Even though it's in black and white, the photo is startlingly gripping and detailed, honoring every wrinkle, chapped lip, frayed clothing and tousled hair in the photograph.
Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California

Migrant agricultural worker's family. Seven hungry children. Mother aged thirty-two. Father is a native Californian. Destitute in pea picker's camp, Nipomo, California, because of the failure of the early pea crop. These people had just sold their tent in order to buy food. Of the twenty-five hundred people in this camp most of them were destitute

  1. Ground Zero Spirit: In some ways reminiscent of the photo taken at Iwo Jima, Ground Zero Spirit shows three exhausted firefighters raising the American flag against a tangle of iron and debris at Ground Zero. Photographer Thomas E. Franklin took the photo on September 11, 2001, just after 5p.m., at the end of a workday that started with a devastating mass murder.
Ground zero spirit [2001]

  1. Lunch Atop a Skyscraper: Another photograph that's been reprinted on calendars, postcards and posters is Lunch Atop a Skyscraper, taken in 1932 by an unknown artist. In some ways comical, in others frightening, the photo shows the everyday lunchtime routine for a group of laboring men in early 20th century America.

  1. Firefighter Chris Fields, Oklahoma City bombing: This photo is probably most famous image from the Oklahoma City bombing, which happened on April 19, 1995. Firefighter Chris Fields cradles a dying infant named Baylee Almon, covered in blood and wearing only a pair of socks. It's a pathetic, disheartening photo that was taken by two photographers at the same instant, Lester LaRue and Charles Porter.
  2. Coretta King at funeral for MLK, Jr.: Photographer Moneta J. Sleet Jr. won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Photography for this image of Coretta Scott King at her husband's funeral. Wearing a black veil and looking stoic, Scott King holds her daughter who is slumped over her mother's lap looking dazed. It's said to be one of the most graceful images of the Civil Rights Movement.
  1. First Airplane Flight, 1903: This very early photo is part of a series of images showing Orville and Wilbur Wright testing out their airplane. It's a stunning visual documentation of human's first foray into flight.
[640 x 450 photo (72 dpi) of Orville Wright's famous first airplane flight, 1903]

  1. Phan Thi Kim Phuc: One of the most upsetting and iconic images in not just American history but world history, Nick Ut's photograph shows young Vietnamese children running down a road after a napalm attack, screaming in pain as they try to make sense of their newly burned bodies. Phan Thi Kim PHuc is the little girl in the center of the photo, who was just nine years old at the time of the attack. Behind her and the other children are South Vietnamese soldiers, who were escorting the young group to safety at the time of the attack. It's a heart-wrenching, guilt-inducing photo that shows the cruel, violent side of human nature. Ut — who took the children to a hospital after snapping the photo — won a Pulitzer Prize, and his picture was also chosen as the World Press Photo of the Year for 1972.

File:Vietnam Kim Phúc.jpg

  1. Young Miner: Photographer Lewis H. Hine took many pictures of the children who were exploited during the early 20th century, before child labor laws protected them from the harshness of the country's new obsession with industrialism. Young Miner was taken in 1908, featuring a young boy who gives a weak smile despite his apparent exhaustion, dirty face, and stooped stance.

  1. Bob Dylan, fans looking into Limousine: It's not just that everyone should know who Bob Dylan is, but this photograph — taken by Barry Feinstein — also depicts America's newfound obsession with fame and celebrity adoration. Fans are pressed against the glass window of Dylan's car, and one young admirer even has his (or her) hands folded as if in prayer. Americans went crazy for Sinatra and Elvis, but during the 1960s, we took celebrity worship to a whole new level — and it's been escalating ever since. Plus, it's just a great shot of Dylan.
  1. Panorama of the Destroyed City: Still known as one of the most devastating natural disasters in American history, the 1906 earthquake is also responsible for new building codes and laws in San Francisco and all over the country. This is one of the most famous shots of the devastation: only three structures remain standing in the entire Financial District.
  2. Charles Lindbergh with the Spirit of St. Louis: Charles Lindbergh's politics may have been controversial, but he also represented a cowboy-like spirit that still appeals to many Americans. This shot of the young pilot in front of The Spirit of St. Louis was taken in 1927.
  3. Tanisha Blevin and Nita LaGarde evacuating the convention center: There are so many moving, horrifying, empathetic photographs from Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the Gulf Coast in 2005. It's almost like rubber necking: it's hard to believe that we let it get that bad in an American city. But this photo is considered one of the most defining and complex images of the whole mess. Five-year-old Nita LaGarde — who is black — holds the hand and grips the wheelchair of 89-year-old Nita LaGarde — who is white — as they are evacuated from the convention center in New Orleans. The neighbors survived on a roof with Blevin's 60-year-old grandmother, only to then live on a bridge for two days, receiving food and water from looters. Both looking lost in the photo, they cling to each other.
  4. The Mill: The Mill is another one of Lewis Hine's photographs depicting the cruel realities of child labor in the United States. An 11-year-old girl steals a break and looks longingly out the window, her back turned to the dangerous machines she must tend to during long working days.
  5. The Water is Rising: Another photo of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, this image shows the utter hopelessness and abandonment of the survivors who felt like they'd been left behind. Four young men stare up at a photographer — who most likely flew by on a helicopter — next to ragged blankets and a twisted American flag. "The Water is Rising Pleas" is spray painted next to them, but help hasn't arrived.
  6. Swearing in of LBJ: There are countless photos documenting the assassination — the moments just before and just after — and funeral of JFK, but this one shows the shock, chaos and grief of the situation. Jackie Kennedy stands next to LBJ as he is sworn in as President of the United States aboard a very crowded Air Force One. Jackie's fallen face is uncharacteristic of the normally poised First Lady, and LBJ's serious, fatigued expression is in direct contrast to the inauguration ceremonies of most presidents.
  7. Marilyn Monroe, the Seven Year Itch: Marilyn Monroe wasn't just a famous movie star: she — perhaps by accident — encouraged Americans to be more open about sex. She's a revolutionary cultural icon, and this photograph from the set of The Seven Year Itch is the perfect example of her influence on entertainment and how we started to embrace sexuality.
  8. Standing on the Moon: Arguably one of the most important and most celebrated moments in American history is when Neil Amstrong stood on the moon. This photograph of Buzz Aldrin — the second man on the moon — looking directly at the camera through his astronaut suit and helmet compromises a lumbering, science fiction-like figure with the incredibly sophisticated technology that put him there, and that still baffles many of us today.
  9. Rabin, Clinton and Yasser Arafat: Bill Clinton is often remembered only for his impeachment and Monica Lewinsky scandal, but he also came very close to achieving peace in the Middle East. This famous photo was taken on September 13, 1993, and shows Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shaking hands with Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat on the South Lawn of the White House. Clinton stands between them with his arms outstretched and with a smile on his face.
  10. Meeting of MLK and Malcolm X: Two of the most prominent and influential of the Civil Rights Movement held conflicting views on achieving equality — or power — and though they're often lumped together in history classes today, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X only met once. Here the two men shake hands and smile as they greet each other before a Washington, D.C. press conference after a Senate debate on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. King was a staunch preacher of non-violence while Malcolm X embraced violence as an acceptable tactic for taking power away from white society.
  11. Marlboro Marine: This impressive photo is one of the most emotional of all images of the modern Iraq war. Taken by AP photographer Luis Sinco in 2004, Marine James Blake Miller takes a smoke break, but his eyes look pained, exhausted, confused, introspective, and even detached from what's going on around him. It's a moving photo that also speaks to the way soldiers are treated and rehabilitated once they return home.
  12. The Obamas, election night: Every American should be able to recognize its past and current presidents, and this photo from election night 2008 shows an especially historic moment. The newly chosen First Family — the Obamas — also became the first African American First Family on November 4, 2008. Barack Obama clasps the hand of his younger daughter Sasha, as Michelle hugs their older daughter Malia, on stage in Chicago's Grant Park.

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As his 80th birthday approaches, a look at the life and legacy of the late Ray Charles.

"I just do what I do." That's what Ray Charles told Billboard in June 2002 when asked to assess his role in music history. Of course, Charles' self-effacing response belies a groundbreaking career and a legacy that endures today, as fans look toward celebrating what would have been the legendary artist's 80th birthday Sept. 23. Looking back at Charles' storied career, what comes to mind is the phrase "musical genius." In Charles' case, that's no hype.

Rare & Unseen Ray Charles Photos | Charles on the Charts

80th Birthday Year Events | Charles Charity

In 1954, the artist's melding of gospel and blues yielded the pioneering hit "I've Got a Woman"-and forged an indelible imprint on R&B, rock and pop. His earthy, soulful voice graced a steady stream of classics after "Woman," including "Drown in My Own Tears," "What'd I Say," "Hit the Road Jack," "Unchain My Heart," "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "Georgia on My Mind."

Video below: Ray Charles performs "Hit The Road Jack" in São Paulo, Brazil on September 22, 1963.

Video below: Ray Charles performs "Then I'll Be Home" in Montreux, Switzerland on July 19, 1997.

Just as at home on the Hammond B-3 organ as he was on the piano, he also landed at the top of Billboard's R&B, pop, country and jazz charts-and even the dance chart, collaborating with childhood friend Quincy Jones and Chaka Khan on "I'll Be Good to You."

His final recording, 2004's "Genius Loves Company," made history when it won eight Grammy Awards, including album and record of the year for his pairing with Norah Jones on "Here We Go Again."

But what many may not know is that the inimitable Charles was also a genius when it came to the business side of music. In the early '60s he negotiated a rare feat after leaving Atlantic Records to sign with ABC-Paramount: ownership of his own master recordings. He also established his own labels. Tangerine (his favorite fruit) came first, which later evolved into CrossOver Records.

A songwriter who penned nearly 200 songs, Charles also operated his own publishing companies, Tangerine Music and Racer Music. For these entities, Charles and longtime manager Joe Adams designed and built the RPM International office and studios on Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Ray Charles Memorial Library will open in the building this fall.

Charles also found time to manage the careers of other acts, including Billy Preston and '70s R&B group the Friends of Distinction. And way before it was de rigueur for artists to do, Charles set up what became a foundation to help needy children with hearing disabilities and later on support education.

He was an amazing human being," says Jones, 77, who became friends with Charles when both were scrappy teenagers in Seattle. "A true innovator who revolutionized music and the business of music," he adds. "Growing up, we only had the radio; no Michael Jackson, Diddy or Oprah. So it was hard to imagine today's entrepreneurial world. But that didn't stop us. We spent a lot of time talking and dreaming about things that brothers had never done before."

"He really was a genius," says singer Solomon Burke, a former Atlantic labelmate. "He did things the way he wanted."

Charles was born Ray Charles Robinson Sept. 23, 1930, in Albany, Ga. As many learned through actor Jamie Foxx's Academy Award-winning portrayal in the 2004 film "Ray," Charles became blind by age 7 and orphaned at 15 while growing up in northwest Florida.

In eight years at a state school for the blind, the young Charles learned how to read and write music. Leaving Florida in 1947, he headed for Seattle ("Choosing the farthest place he could find from Florida," Jones says), where he notched his first hit two years later as a member of the Maxin Trio, "Confession Blues."

Even then, Charles was an enterprising individual. "He had his own apartment, record player, two pairs of pimp shoes, and here I am still living at home," Jones recalls with a laugh. "His mother trained him not to be blind: no cane, no dogs, no cup. His scuffed-up shoes... that was his guide and driving force. He was the most independent dude I ever saw in my life. Ray would get blind only when pretty girls came around."

Signing with Atlantic Records in 1952, Charles as a West Coast jazz and blues man recorded such songs as "It Should've Been Me" and label co-founder Ahmet Ertegun's composition, "Mess Around."

Then he connected in 1954 with "I've Got a Woman," which set off a chain reaction of more hits capitalizing on his bold gospel/blues fusion. But Charles was just getting started. In 1958, he performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, accompanied by a band that featured such jazz cats as saxophonists David "Fathead" Newman and Hank Crawford. Further bucking convention, he recorded "The Genius of Ray Charles," a 1959 release offering standards on one side (including "Come Rain or Come Shine") and big band numbers on the other, featuring members of Count Basie's orchestra and several arrangements by Jones.

Video below: Charles' 1966 Coke commercial, "So Tired."

Leaving Atlantic for ABC-Paramount, a fearless Charles recorded the seminal "Genius + Soul = Jazz" album in 1961. A year later, his earlier dabbling in country music grew serious with the release of the million-selling "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music."

Complemented by lush strings and a harmony-rich choir, he scored with covers of Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You" and Ted Daffan's "Born to Lose"-and spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

For a black man to do this in 1962 was unheard of," says Tony Gumina, president of the Ray Charles Marketing Group, which handles the late artist's licensing affairs. "He was trying to sell records to people who didn't want to drink from the same water fountain as him. But this was one of his greatest creative and business moves: to not be categorized musically and cross over. Though he never worried about it, he was resigned to the fact that he might lose some core fans. But he thought he'd gain far more in the process."

Gumina was operating his own promotion company working with state lotteries when he met Charles in 1999. The two teamed up on a series of commercials for various state lotteries and also introduced a line of Ray Charles slot machines also accessible to the blind.

"Everything he did had a business acumen to it," says Gumina, who cites Charles' liaison with manager Adams as a pivotal turning point. Originally hired to be Charles' stage announcer, former radio DJ Adams segued into overseeing production of the singer's shows, lighting and wardrobe.

Together the pair designed and built Charles' L.A. business base, RPM International (Recording, Publishing and Management) studio. When he began recording there in 1965, the label rented the studio from him, so he made money on his recordings before they were even released.

To save money on travel expenses, Charles purchased an airplane to ferry his band around to gigs. A smaller plane was also acquired so that Charles could wing in to, say, New York to record a couple of songs before flying back out in time for a show.

"He understood the entertainment business enough to know that you may not be popular forever," Gumina says, "and you need to maximize your product. At the same time, he had as much fun as any rock star but without the sad money stories. There was a time to work and a time to play, and he knew the difference. He didn't have a bunch of homes or a large entourage. That's why he was able to save $50 million before he died."

Calling Charles an "incredibly smart man," Concord president John Burk says he learned a lot from the ailing singer while he was recording his final studio album, "Genius Loves Company."

Video below: Ray Charles performs "It Ain't Easy Being Green" in Trentnton, NJ on Nov. 7, 2002.

Going through "some sticky deal points, he was amazing," Burk recalls. "He had the whole agreement in his head. Without referencing any material, he knew all the terms we proposed and had the deal done for the album in two discussions."

Creatively, Burk says Charles was an artist dedicated to delivering "a true performance from the heart. Part of his creative legacy was his approach to singing. He opened the door to vocal improvisations, changing how people perceived you could sing a song. Many singers today are influenced by him and they don't even know it."

Rare & Unseen Ray Charles Photos | Charles on the Charts

80th Birthday Year Events | Charles Charity


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