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‘Road Through Midnight’ Brings Forgotten Civil Rights Atrocities Into Focus

Courtesy of Jessica Ingram

While visiting Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, Alabama, photographer Jessica Ingram was struck by how familiar media images from the civil rights era, such as attack dogs and high-pressure water hoses turned on protestors, were memorialized in sculpture. She wondered what was left out of the dominant narrative of this time.

Her research led her to roads less traveled in the Deep South, where there are no sculptures, road markers or memorials identifying the racial violence that occurred there. Her fieldwork evolved from photographing these forgotten murder sites to collecting oral histories from surviving family members and researching cold cases. The end result is a book that serves as a memorial to the ordinary landscapes where extraordinary, often overlooked violence took place.

Host Anita Rao talks to Ingram, assistant professor of art at Florida State University, about her journey, some of the cases she researched and the images that make up “Road Through Midnight: A Civil Rights Memorial” (The University of North Carolina Press/2020). Jessica Ingram will present an artist’s talk and book signing on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 5:30 p.m. at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies in Durham.

Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist, host, creator, and executive editor of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health.
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