2014 Debra L. Lee Lecture on Slavery and Justice: Deborah Willis: Visualizing Freedom: Photography & Emancipation

March 4, 2014
2014 Debra L. Lee Lecture on Slavery and Justice: Deborah Willis: Visualizing Freedom: Photography & Emancipation
6:00 PM book signing & reception, lecture begins at 6:30 PM
Smith Buonanno 106
95 Cushing Street
Free and Open to the Public 




In this pioneering book, renowned photographic historian Deborah Willis and historian of slavery Barbara Krauthamer have amassed nearly 150 photographs--some never before published--from the antebellum days of the 1850s through the New Deal era of the 1930s. The authors vividly display the seismic impact of emancipation on African Americans born before and after the Proclamation, providing a perspective on freedom and slavery and a way to understand the photos as documents of engagement, action, struggle, and aspiration. From photos of the enslaved on plantations and African American soldiers and camp workers in the Union Army to Juneteenth celebrations, slave reunions, and portraits of black families and workers in the American South, the images in this book challenge perceptions of slavery. They show not only what the subjects emphasized about themselves but also the ways Americans of all colors and genders opposed slavery and marked its end.

The Debra L. Lee Lectures serve as a key component of the University’s response to the Report of the Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice and invites the most distinguished scholars to Brown to discuss historic and contemporary issues related to the legacy of slavery in the Americas and the world.

Deborah Willis, PhD, is chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Professor Willis has an affiliated appointment as University Professor with the College of Arts and Sciences, Africana Studies also at NYU. Professor Willis has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Fletcher, and MacArthur fellowships, the Infinity Award in Writing from the International Center for Photography, and recipient of the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation Award. Named one of the "100 Most Important People in Photography" by American Photography magazine, she is one of the nation's leading historians of African American photography and curators of African American culture.