Description

Working in Germany in the 1960s Leonard Freed photographed a black soldier standing before the Berlin Wall and was struck by the realization that while this soldier was defending freedom in Europe, his brothers and sisters were fighting for their freedom at home. This thought inspired him to return to the United States and produce a photo-essay examining the daily life of black communities across America, from the East Coast to the Deep South. His resulting photo-essay culminated in the book Black in White America, first published in 1967/68.

Ultimately photography is about who you are. It's the truth in relation to yourself

Leonard Freed
© Leonard Freed | Magnum Photos

Leonard Freed was born in Brooklyn, New York, to working-class Jewish parents of Eastern European descent. He initially wished to become a painter, but began taking photographs while in the Netherlands in 1953 and discovered that this was where his passion lay.

Working as a freelance photographer from 1961 onwards, Freed began to travel widely, photographing the black experience in America (1964-65), events in Israel (1967-68), the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and the New York City police department (1972-79). He also shot four films for Japanese, Dutch and Belgian television.

Freed joined Magnum in 1972. His coverage of the American civil rights movement brought him global attention, but he also produced major essays on Poland, Asian immigration in England, North Sea oil development, and Spain after Franco. Photography became Freed’s means of exploring societal violence and racial discrimination. Leonard Freed died in 2006.

© Leonard Freed | Magnum Photos

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