Powerful Photographs of Protests From Magnum’s Latest Square Print Sale

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Leonard Freed
The March on Washington, Washington, D.C., USA, August 28, 1963© Leonard Freed / Magnum Photos

Among the photographs in Magnum’s Solidarity-themed Square Print Sale, which will see 50 per cent of proceeds go to the NAACP, some of the USA’s most historic protests are depicted

‘Solidarity’ is the theme of Magnum Photos’ latest Square Print Sale, which launches online today. The biannual sale – which sees museum quality, signed or estate-stamped prints available to buy for $100 for five days – arrives in the wake of both the Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, two global events that have defined 2020. The idea of solidarity feels fitting for this moment in time.

Among the selection of over 100 photographs from the sale – which is in collaboration with Vogue, bringing in photographers who have appeared in the magazine’s pages – the depiction of protests emerges as a frequent subject matter: from historical marches that took place during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s in the USA to those on the streets of Minneapolis in June of this year following the murder of George Floyd (in response to this year’s extensive anti-racism protests, Magnum photographers and Vogue will both be donating 50 per cent of their proceeds to the NAACP). These images of protests span beyond the USA’s civil rights history, with photographs from France’s May 1968 unrest, an anti-apartheid march in Trafalgar Square in 1960, ‘The Confiscated Revolution’ in Iran in 1979, and American athletes at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City raising a Black Power fist as they receive gold medals.

Some of the USA’s most publicised and historic moments appear in photographs in the sale. A photograph by Leonard Freed depicts a young girl at the March on Washington in 1963. “This is the day. Bus-loads of marchers, Leonard Freed and I ... amongst them, in our very small Italian Fiat 600. People of all colours, of all ages, of all religions, singing ‘We shall overcome’. Unforgettable, always, forever,” Freed’s wife Brigitte remembers. 

American photographer Bruce Davidson documented the marches from Selma to the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery in 1965. “Martin Luther King Jr. led a group of African-American, non-violent marchers to exercise their constitutional right to vote, in defiance of segregationist repression. This was a watershed moment in the US Civil Rights Movement,” Davidson recalls. “I came across this young demonstrator, wrapped in a flag, protesting racism; behind him is Father Smith of San Antonio, a white Catholic priest who protested against injustice for most of his life.”

In 1988, Eli Reed was the first Black photographer hired full-time by Magnum Photos. For Solidarity, Reed presents a photograph of an anti-racism march in Georgia in 1987, when tens of thousands of people arrived to protest in Forsyth County two weeks after a small group of Black protesters were victims of racist attacks. “I have covered protests in Austin, Texas, and spent two days in Houston during the George Floyd memorials. I saw people of all races together, extremely concerned about what is happening in the US,” says Reed. “They saw in these moments of time the fact that we are living in deep waters capable of drowning our collective hopes and dreams. Committed support for the marginalised can strengthen bonds and encourage people to come together to make a difference. To dream of a seat at the table requires fewer words and more deeds, acting upon the courage to do the right thing. I have hopes that present generations of young white people will want to join with their Black and brown family to affect substantial change!”

Solidarity, the Magnum Photos Square Print Sale in collaboration with Vogue, runs from July 27 – 31, 2020. The sale supports the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).