Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History


Arts of Africa and Diaspora

Committee Chair

Earnestine Jenkins

Committee Member

Robert Connolly

Committee Member

Michele Coffey

Committee Member

Richard Lou


Early African American photography was the focus for most of my graduate studies in in the Art History program. In both written and visual form, this subject revealed issues of black history, culture, resistance, agency, and transformation. Historic black freedom fighters such as Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, W. E. B. DuBois, and Booker T. Washington employed photography as a truth-revealing tool for obtaining justice and equality for African Americans. When Ibegan to look at an archive of modern civil rights photography from Memphis, Isaw a continuation of the history of photography used as a political expression for the African American experience. This study of the 1968 sanitation strike in Memphis focuses on a specific time and event that also reveals issues of race, gender, class, and labor that span a much larger time frame. The archive of photographs from the sanitation strike belongs to the archive of photographs of the long civil rights struggle. It exposes a lineage of various responses to oppressive forces and cultural expressions that emerge and transform out of the changing social, political, and economic circumstances. The archive also reveals narratives that were hidden or left out of dominant histories.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.