Herbert Randall
1936–


Audio

  • Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop

    Herbert Randall, Untitled (Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Freedom Summer), 1964

    Herbert Randall, Untitled (Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Freedom Summer), 1964

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    Narrator: In the summer of 1964, Herb Randall received a fellowship to take pictures in the South. He ended up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, during the Freedom Summer, a voter registration campaign organized by SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. 

    In this photograph, he focused on one of the Freedom Schools set up by SNCC. These schools offered a six-week program of reading, writing, math, history, and civics. This program was intended to counter the failed educational system, and the systematic disenfranchisement of African Americans. 

    Herb Randall: It was a rainy, rainy day, and the Freedom Schools generally were held in the churches. And it was hot. This is Mississippi in the summer, there was no air conditioning, and so you would try to have classes on the outside of the churches and things. But because of the rain, the classes had to come inside into the church basement. It was a fairly large basement. However, with the amount of children, the kids were very respectful, and so they weren't really too loud, but it was kind of noisy there in the basement with all of the kids, with different classes going on.

    And I just saw this young boy sitting on these steps.

    And he was just there, involved in learning something or ingesting something. It was just a total difference between the group and him that impressed me, and I was just curious as to what he might be thinking about this whole thing.

    Then I saw the pattern of the stairs and whatever and whatever, and I took the photograph. But just the boy sitting there in the position that he was, was the initial thing that I was interested in.

  • Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop

    Herbert Randall, Untitled (Lower East Side, NY), c. 1960

    Herbert Randall, Untitled (Lower East Side, NY), c. 1960

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    Herb Randall: I was interested in this particular street on the lower part of the photograph. Because I had taken a series of photographs on that street.

    Narrator: Like the other Kamoinge photographers, Herb Randall thought of his project as being art, not journalism. But often the works involved an element of social commentary anyway.  

    Herb Randall: And just the devastation from the—they were just tearing this whole area down, and I'm sure to build something “wonderful” in its place. But the children, I don't know where they came from because there was really no place to live, so they must've came from a couple of blocks away or whatever to come to this street. 

    What I found, I guess, in retrospect is, what the hell are these kids doing...this is their playground? This is education? 

    I would rather people have a choice. You know, if you want to play in the gutter, then play in the gutter. This is their playground. They had no choice, in a sense. That bothers me. You have to play in crap? No human being needs to do that.



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