From award-winning photojournalist Richard Frishman comes a collection of photographs documenting America’s history of segregation, slavery, and institutional racism hidden in plain sight, accompanied by hard-hitting personal essays from University of Virginia professor of sociology and Black culture B. Brian Foster and with a foreword by National Book Award winner Imani Perry
Beginning in 2018, Richard Frishman embarked on a 35,000-mile journey, crossing the United States several times, traveling from his home state of Washington to Maine, from Mississippi to Michigan, and everywhere in between. Frishman was driven by a deep concern for capturing traces of the nation’s history of segregation, slavery, and institutional racism embedded in everyday American architecture. Frishman spent the next five years capturing photographs of structures like the New Orleans Slave Exchange, old “colored entrances” at movie theaters in Seattle and Texas, formerly segregated beaches in Los Angeles, and the former site of New York City’s slave market.
As Frishman was traveling the country, his collaborator, noted sociologist Dr. B. Brian Foster, was writing about economic development, Black community life, and the blues in his home state of Mississippi. Foster adds to this collection seven essays of stirring prose and intimate storytelling. Whether reflecting on his relationship to his grandmother and her archive of family photos or chronicling his experiences working as a professor at the University of Mississippi and the University of Virginia, Foster adds layers of emotional resonance and sharp insight to the photographic collection with his essays, speaking to the shared memories, living histories, rippling beauty, and ongoing struggles of Black life in the United States.
Within this immersive collection, readers will witness and learn of histories startling, stirring, and thought-provoking: Histories of white supremacist violence and systemic racism. Histories of segregated bathrooms, beaches, churches, dining areas, doors, hospitals, hotels, waiting rooms, and water. Histories of Black aliveness and aspiration. Histories of Black migration, Black entrepreneurship, Black protest and organizing, Black singing and dancing, and Black placemaking.
This remarkable book brings home a powerful truth: these ghosts of segregation haunt us because they are very much alive. It also reveals how our surroundings bear witness to history, reminding us where we have been, where we are now, and crucially asking, Where do we go from here?
Richard Frishman’s photographs explore how the built environment reveals our cultural histories. In 2021 Frishman was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for photography. His current documentary project, Ghosts of Segregation, explores the vestiges of racial oppression in the landscape of the United States.
Frishman’s photography is included in a wide range collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, and the OAS Art Museum of the Americas. His work has garnered numerous awards, including the 2019 Review Santa Fe Curator's Choice Award (juror: Makeda Best), the 2019 PhotoNOLA Portfolio Award, two Sony World Photography Awards (2018), a Communication Arts Photography Award (2018), and a Photo District News Photo Annual Award (2018). In 1983, he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in feature photography.
He lectures around the United States about the intersection of the designed environment, history, and social issues.
“In the haunting photographs of Ghosts of Segregation, the scars of racism hide in plain sight.”