David Prince
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241 David Prince David Prince was born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1942 and grew up in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where his father worked as a microbotanist for the developing national space program. Prince “turned to photography” in high school as a way to communicate and stay engaged in his classes. Upon graduating in 1960, he enrolled in Ohio University, the only four-year program in the U.S. granting degrees in photojournalism. He studied with the same teachers who taught documentary photographers Paul Fusco and James Karales and “aspired to become a Look or Life photographer.” As a university senior, Prince began traveling into the South to fulfill class assignments. “I was a weekend revolutionary,” he says, “and even though I was living in the midst of some of the worst poverty in America, I had to discover poverty by going to Mississippi and Alabama.” Prince’s student photos eventually were published in the school newspaper and later found their way into a SNCC office, where Matt Herron discovered them and invited Prince to join the Southern Documentary Project (SDP). Prince was the only full-time student in the project, which brought four other photographers into Mississippi to cover COFO’s Freedom Summer. Early in July 1964, on the project’s first days, Prince was assigned to accompany freelance writer Jerry DeMuth to a voter registration drive in Selma. The assignment turned the two young men into “movement legends” when they were beaten by Sheriff Jim Clark’s posse and later involved in a United States Justice Department investigation of the incident. After the Selma ordeal, Prince traveled to Philadelphia, Mississippi, and documented the family of murdered civil rights worker James Chaney; the new Freedom School in the community of Mound Bayou, Mississippi; and the plantation of Mississippi senator James Eastland, with its physically intact slave quarters. After the summer, Prince returned to Athens and graduated from Ohio University, gave up photography, and became a documentary filmmaker . “I made some films for PBS,” he said, “and then got enticed back to Ohio University, where I was hired as one of their professors and taught film for thirty years.” Reflecting on his tumultuous summer in Alabama and Mississippi, Prince wanted to clarify the nature of his SDP 242 involvement: “I didn’t really think of myself as a professional photographer that summer, but as a freedom guy, as someone who got on the front lines and got his hands dirty. I thought of myself as a part of SNCC. We were actually paid through the SNCC offices, and I felt that I was a movement person. That’s how I want to be remembered.” ...


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Subject Headings

  • Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.) -- History.
  • Political activists -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Photographers -- Political activity -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Southern States -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century -- Pictorial works.
  • United States -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century -- Pictorial works.
  • Civil rights movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Pictorial works.
  • African Americans -- Civil rights -- History -- 20th century -- Pictorial works.
  • Photographers -- United States -- Interviews.
  • Political activists -- United States -- Interviews.
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