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Unknown Photographer

Harlem rent strike leader Jesse Gray stands with Donald Weems outside police headquarters in Washington DC, August 7, 1967
Vintage wire photograph on paper
7 1/8 x 10 1/8 in. (18.1 x 25.72 cm)

Creation Place: North America
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Restricted gift of Michael Mattis and Judy Hochberg in honor of Myrlie Evers-Williams.
Accession Number: P2021.13.898

Arrested, then Released: Harlem rent strike leader Jesse Gray stands with Donald Weems outside police headquarters in Washington DC. They were arrested following a disturbance in the Capitol and charged with disorderly conduct. Gray, Weems and other demonstrators were released on bond.

A New York City rent strike over repairs in the winter of 1963-1964 was led by Jesse Gray, a tenant organizer there since 1953. The focus of the strike was not rent levels but poor maintenance. NB: Jesse Gray (1923-1988) was an American Civil Rights leader and politician from New York. He organized tenant protests against bad conditions in Harlem's slum areas in the 1950s. In November 1963, he led a widespread rent strike. To emphasize bad conditions and vermin infestations, tenants caught rats in their tenements and showed them to the judge of the New York City Civil Court. No measures were taken to improve the conditions, and the protesters rioted the next year. Gray became head of the Community Council for Housing and organized the National Tenants Organization. He also entered politics as a Democrat. In 1969, Gray ran unsuccessfully for the New York City Council. In 1970, he challenged Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. but was defeated. Gray was elected to the New York State Assembly (70th District) in November 1972. He ran for reelection in 1974 but was defeated in the Democratic primary.

Associated Press ID # 19186599422630

On recto: typewritten title and date.
On verso: manuscript title.

Wire photographs were originally transmitted over phonelines, then later, by satellite. They were first used in the early 1920s. Associated Press became a leader with this. After pigment touch-ups, etc., the print is put into a drum (like a drum scanner). The image gets converted into audio tones that are transmitted. The tones are received and beamed onto photo-sensitive paper. Wire photographs are copies without originals---they are hybrid, transmitted objects. (Britt Salvesen, Curator and Department Head, Photography Department, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, March 30-31, 2022)

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  • Image Dimensions: 7 1/8 x 10 1/8 in. (18.1 x 25.72 cm) Measured by Cornejo-Reynoso, Aitzin
  • Sheet Dimensions: 8 1/8 x 11 in. (20.64 x 27.94 cm) Measured by Cornejo-Reynoso, Aitzin

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