From 1979 to 1981, 25 young Black children were found dead in the Atlanta area in a string of violent crimes known as the Atlanta child murders. During this period, Black families lived in fear for their children’s lives, suspecting the involvement of white supremacist groups in the killings. In a city shadowed with grief and its difficult racial past, Lee P. Brown, depicted in this photograph at a press conference, served as Atlanta’s Public Safety Commissioner and led a team of investigators who were able to make arrests for two of the murders.
In this image, we see the weight of the worries of Brown’s community. The city officials, the terrified Black residents, and the country were looking to Commissioner Brown for answers in one of the darkest chapters of Atlanta’s history. Leonard Freed’s choice to include the slew of microphones filling the front of photograph reminds us of the attention on this case and invites us to witness the pressure Brown is feeling by making us part of the audience.
From the 2022 exhibition A Space for Dialogue 104, Southern Gothic, curated by Abigail Smith '23, Conroy Intern
A Space for Dialogue 104, Southern Gothic, Abigail Smith, Class of 2023, Conroy Intern, Alvin P. Gutman Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 8–February 27, 2022.
Collection of Michael Mattis, Scarsdale, New York; sold to Harley and Stephen C. Osman, Stamford, Connecticut, date unknown; given to present collection, 2019.
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