In conjunction with The Criminal Type

How the 1961 Freedom Riders Hijacked Their Mississippi Mugshots

Saturday, November 16, 2019, 2:00 pm
291 Church Street, NYC

In 1961 the Freedom Riders filled the jails in Jackson, Mississippi and helped end segregation in bus and train stations across the South. The Riders’ “jail-no-bail” strategy—one which used the state’s power against itself by causing it to incur expenses rather than profit from Riders’ incarceration—also resulted in an upending of the mugshot process, leaving behind 329 photographs that indicted not their subjects but the apartheid state of Mississippi.

The 329 portraits that remain are compelling and frequently stellar. Eric Etheridge, author and photographer of Breach of Peace: Photographs of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders, will discuss how the mugshots were made, how they survived, and the two murals he has made for The Criminal Type: one of which features the only the forward-facing mugshots, the other featuring only the profile mugshots. He will also discuss their relationship with earlier images, especially the 1850 Zealy slave daguerrotypes (several of which are also on exhibit in The Criminal Type).

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Eric Etheridge is the author and photographer of Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders. The book contains the mug shots of all 329 Riders arrested in Jackson, Miss., in 1961, as well as his contemporary portraits and profiles of 99 Riders. The Rider portraits have been exhibited at the Ft. Wayne Museum of Art, the MississippiMuseum of Art, the Freedom Rider Museum in Montgomery, AL, the Jewish Community Centers in San Francisco and Washington, DC, and elsewhere.Twenty portraits were included in the exhibition “Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956-1968,” which originated at the High Museum in Atlanta, and later traveled to the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, the Field Museum in Chicago, the Skirball in Los Angeles and the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York City. Etheridge began his career as a magazine story editor, working at Rolling Stone, Harper’s Magazine, 7 Days and elsewhere. He later worked online, creating and running websites for Microsoft, the New York Times, and others. A native of Mississippi, he lives in New York City.