A Photographic History of the African American Struggle

A monumental visual record of African American history since the 19th-century.

Text by Manning Marable and Leith Mullings, picture-editing by Sophie Spencer-Wood


Price: USD$69.95

This edition is temporarily out of stock



About the book

This momentous volume chronicles a photographic history of the African American struggle for freedom, combining a unique assimilation of rare images with thought-provoking scholarly analysis. Although the civil rights movement in America is conventionally identified with the period between 1954 and 1968 (from 17 May 17 1954 when the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in public schools, through to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr on 4 April, 1968), the struggle actually began long before that.

Protests against slavery in American colonies were as far back as the seventeenth century, though it was not until the mid-nineteenth century that the resistance built momentum. This photographic journey of the African American struggle for equality begins with abolitionists like Harriet Tubman, who after escaping slavery in 1849 helped others to freedom, and continues to the twenty-first century.

Freedom chronicles, with profound sensitivity and acute attention to detail, the battle to eradicate slavery throughout the Civil War (1815). Accordingly, it traces the evolution of the dual legacy of slavery - segregation and racism - after its official prohibition. The struggle for equal rights involved countless small acts of personal bravery and sweeping proclamations of legal and moral import. Its history is the stuff of of hope and despair, vigilance and violence - realized in an arena of economics, politics and war. It engages black and white, the heroes and the unheard, public acts of protest and private moments of introspection in a world that is unforeseeably challenging.

This book comprises a passionate and poignant celebration of this historical struggle as a gradual phenomenon, substantiating incisive academic discourse with previously unpublished photographs of iconic status.

In The Press

'Freedom is a wonderful resource thanks to the sheer depth of information ... leaving readers with a sense of how far the country has come as well as how far it might go in matters of civil rights, race relations and mutual understanding.' (USA Today)

'An epic undertaking that pulls together imagery from the few extant daguerreotypes of African American abolitionists and slaves through the shattering images made during the civil rights movement.' (American Photo)

About the author(s)

Manning Marable is a strongly prominent voice on the history of race in America. He is the Founding Director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University in New York City, and the author of more than 15 books on the subject, including the highly acclaimed Black Leadership (1998).

Leith Mullings is Presidential Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and the author of several books on race, class and gender in African American communities. She has also edited with Manning Marable an anthology of African American texts, Let Nobody Turn Us Around.

Sophie Spencer-Wood is a picture editor and researcher. She has worked with, among others, Colin Jacobson on Reportage magazine and assisted Bruce Bernard on Phaidon's award-winning book, Century. Her other books include Gandhi and Family, also published by Phaidon.

The Art of Looking Sideways
Patterns of the Earth


Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City. Read more
Contact us

Phaidon Offices

Contact the sales team

  Press offices

Submitting a book proposal

Careers at Phaidon

. .
. . . . . .