Images from an Activist Lens: 1959-2008.: Retrospective of the Art Photography of Wisconsin's own Franklynn Peterson.by Franklynn Peterson, Judi K-Turkel (Editor)
(C.C.C.) camp near Phillips, Wisconsin in "The North Woods" of Wisconsin. His family moved toward central Wisconsin via paper mill towns, where his father was a self-taught mill engineer and his mother a canning factory worker. Summers, he spent at Aunt and Uncle
Franklynn Peterson was born in 1938 during The Great Depression in a Civilian Conservation Corps
(C.C.C.) camp near Phillips, Wisconsin in "The North Woods" of Wisconsin. His family moved toward central Wisconsin via paper mill towns, where his father was a self-taught mill engineer and his mother a canning factory worker. Summers, he spent at Aunt and Uncle Haney's dairy farm near Phillips.
After high school in papermill town Port Edwards, WI, in a class of 24, in 1956 he enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Madison (B.S. Sociology-Mass Communications) in 1960. An early rebel, Peterson braved McCarthy era politics to join and soon head several radical and antiracial organizations. In 1959-60 he organized and led campus-wide educational forums and anti-segregation picketing at the local Woolworth's in support of students of Greensboro, North Carolina, who were sitting-in down there to protest segregation. This work is often cited as the first northern support action for southern sit-ins.
In 1960 Peterson left for New York City with his wife and infant daughter, and lived on the edge of Bedford-Stuyvesant (Brooklyn, NY) from 1960 until 1975. He returned to Madison, Wisconsin, in 1977.
Settling in downtown Brooklyn, New York, Peterson was quickly able to combine independent mass-media photojournalism with placement in the press of more controversial, more cause-based pieces. He grew from an itinerant chronicler of the Civil Rights movement to a fighter, in print, for Everyman's cause - Tikun Olam, helping to save the world. At first, he did the usual: no-holds-barred propaganda just for "the good guys." But because he never veered from strict journalism standards and the honest ethics of his milltown upbringing, he quickly moved onto the pages of large-circulation publications that paid the bills and allowed him to do what he most loved doing. He joined Black Star, a young photography agency created and run by the rising stars of the photojournalism world. Through them, he won remunerative assignments and circulated his photos around the world. His images of the Movement now reached millions in the popular and academic press, in documentary films, in school publications and -- via an international editorial agency -- millions more on other continents.
Peterson pioneered the use in professional photojournalism of small-format cameras that took 35mm film. The camera's tuckable size allowed him to capture intimate, revelatory street scenes as unfolding dramas. He began with an early Leica. Today he prefers a non-SLR digital model, avoiding digital single-lens reflex, having found that mirrors introduce vibrations that hamper hand-held slow exposures.
The artist's friendship with Fannie Lou Hamer, stemming from his University days, led to early and numerous sales to magazines such as Sepia, a popular national monthly read mainly by African-Americans, and to Ave Maria. a progressive Catholic weekly out of Notre Dame (Indiana). His byline began to appear regularly in the pages of the Sunday magazine section published by the Metro Group Sunday Newspapers, a large consortium of newspapers that included the Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, Milwaukee Journal, and -- of special interest -- Memphis Commercial Appeal, a Sunday newspaper that reached all the way to Sunflower County (Mississippi). In time, he became Editor of Sepia for several years, but his true calling was photojournalism.
In the course of his work, Peterson became a trusted creative activist with Brooklyn CORE (Congress of Racial Equality), one of the most militant chapters within the old-guard non-violent racial equality movement. With CORE, he took some of his earliest and most memorable photographs of families trapped in tenements unfit for human occupancy. There it was he met Major Owens, who then chaired Brooklyn CORE, and helped run the first campaign of the long-time Congressman from Brooklyn.
- CreateSpace Publishing
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- 8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.07(d)
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