POV

Faded Portrait. A stark reminder of the consequences of inequality.

We fought our way out of the dust bowl for economic uncertainty, poverty and unemployment due to huge disparities in wealth distribution in the modern day.

by Teo J. Babini - images courtesy of the New York Public Library

Ben Shahn - A destitute family, Ozark Mountains area, [Arkansas] – 1935 http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/629acaf0-fc0c-0132-ee40-58d385a7b928

Ben Shahn – A destitute family, Ozark Mountains area, [Arkansas] – 1935
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/629acaf0-fc0c-0132-ee40-58d385a7b928

A quick glimpse into the sad history of our country: these black and white moments forever suspended in sepia are recently released public domain photos from The Great Depression from the NY Public Library.

Walker Evans - Negroes in the lineup for food at meal time in the camp for flood refugees, Forrest City, Arkansas – 1937 http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/6b18d600-bb7b-0132-cf91-58d385a7b928

Walker Evans – Negroes in the lineup for food at meal time in the camp for flood refugees, Forrest City, Arkansas – 1937
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/6b18d600-bb7b-0132-cf91-58d385a7b928

Although they harken back to times of antiquity, the period is still poignantly relevant when we examine the current state of the union.

Ben Shahn - Wife and child of sharecropper, Arkansas – 1935 http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/a5235c90-da45-0132-4101-58d385a7b928

Ben Shahn – Wife and child of sharecropper, Arkansas – 1935
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/a5235c90-da45-0132-4101-58d385a7b928

Times have certainly changed, but how much so? We fought our way out of the dust bowl for economic uncertainty, poverty and unemployment due to huge disparities in wealth distribution in the modern day.

Arthur Rothstein - daughter of Dalton McLeod, Negro rehabilitation client. Fuquay Springs, North Carolina. – 1935 http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/b49be3c6-04d5-fe1f-e040-e00a18060ea3

Arthur Rothstein – daughter of Dalton McLeod, Negro rehabilitation client. Fuquay Springs, North Carolina. – 1935
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/b49be3c6-04d5-fe1f-e040-e00a18060ea3

We marched for civil rights and we still see rampant prejudice and inequality abound. And yet, we are presented with a choice. We can choose to ignore this history and elect a xenophobic maniac to build the new Hoovervilles along the border for our deported Southern counterparts, or we can finally accept that this version of capitalism just doesn’t work and try something new for a change.

Arthur Rothstein - Young farmer who has been resettled, Penderlea, North Carolina – 1935 http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/825ee1f0-2289-0132-3f98-58d385a7bbd0

Arthur Rothstein – Young farmer who has been resettled, Penderlea, North Carolina – 1935
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/825ee1f0-2289-0132-3f98-58d385a7bbd0

My recommendation: Cast aside our fears of the unfamiliar, ‘cause if you look back at the “golden age”, you’ll see that it could use a bit of polish.

Ann Booth Luly collaborated to this article.

Ben Shahn - Hungarian miner, Calumet, Pennsylvania. Worked in the mines for thirty-four years, now sixty-three with no pension and no work – 1935 http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/13d710d0-da36-0132-b059-58d385a7bbd0

Ben Shahn – Hungarian miner, Calumet, Pennsylvania. Worked in the mines for thirty-four years, now sixty-three with no pension and no work – 1935
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/13d710d0-da36-0132-b059-58d385a7bbd0

Ben Shahn - Scene in New Orleans, Louisiana. A street tailor – 1935 http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/7b8c4cf0-fc0d-0132-4b3d-58d385a7b928

Ben Shahn – Scene in New Orleans, Louisiana. A street tailor – 1935
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/7b8c4cf0-fc0d-0132-4b3d-58d385a7b928

Ben Shahn – School Youngsters Red House, West Virginia, 1935 http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/0a794420-00af-0133-8437-58d385a7bbd0

Ben Shahn – School Youngsters Red House, West Virginia, 1935
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/0a794420-00af-0133-8437-58d385a7bbd0

Ben Shahn - Sharecropper on Sunday, Little Rock, Ark., October 1935. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47de-8171-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Ben Shahn – Sharecropper on Sunday, Little Rock, Ark., October 1935.
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47de-8171-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Ben Shahn - Members of the Musgrove family, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania 1935 http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/1bc6e680-da36-0132-21cd-58d385a7bbd0

Ben Shahn – Members of the Musgrove family, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania 1935
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/1bc6e680-da36-0132-21cd-58d385a7bbd0

Ben Shahn - Barn on Route 40, Ohio 1938 http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/6de17f00-089d-0133-d772-58d385a7b928

Ben Shahn – Barn on Route 40, Ohio 1938
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/6de17f00-089d-0133-d772-58d385a7b928

Dorothea Lange - Car and homemade trailer on U.S. 101 near King City, California. Man and wife middle-aged, from Wisconsin. "Old Man Depression sent us out on the road ... You don't know anything about how many people are living in trailers till you 'hit' Florida. 1936 http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/ba309cea-91fe-4288-e040-e00a18066c61

Dorothea Lange – Car and homemade trailer on U.S. 101 near King City, California. Man and wife middle-aged, from Wisconsin. “Old Man Depression sent us out on the road … You don’t know anything about how many people are living in trailers till you ‘hit’ Florida. 1936
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/ba309cea-91fe-4288-e040-e00a18066c61

Dorothea Lange. Young family, penniless, hitchhiking on U.S. Highway 99, California. The father, twenty-four, and the mother, seventeen, came from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, early in 1935. Their baby was born in the Imperial Valley, California, where they were working as field laborers. NYPL Digital Gallery. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/ba309cea-9788-4288-e040-e00a18066c61

Dorothea Lange. Young family, penniless, hitchhiking on U.S. Highway 99, California. The father, twenty-four, and the mother, seventeen, came from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, early in 1935. Their baby was born in the Imperial Valley, California, where they were working as field laborers. NYPL Digital Gallery.
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/ba309cea-9788-4288-e040-e00a18066c61

 

 

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