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Charles Kelly

(North Carolina, c. 1932 - June 3, 2016, Atlanta, GA)

Associated Press staff photographer Jack Thornell (above) was a few yards from James Meredith when Meredith was shot in an ambush as he walked along U.S. 51 near Hernando, Mississippi, June 7, 1966
Vintage wire photograph on paper
6 13/16 x 4 in. (17.3 x 10.16 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: P2021.13.1466

Photographs Meredith Ambush: Associated Press staff photographer Jack Thornell, above, was only a few yards away from James Meredith on Monday afternoon when Meredith was shot in an ambush as he walked along U.S. 51 near Hernando, Mississippi. Thornell made the photographs that showed Meredith diving to the ground to avoid being struck by the blast, and then grimacing in pain at the side of the road.

James Howard Meredith (born June 25, 1933) is a trailblazer in the Civil Rights movement. In 1962, he became the first black American student admitted to the University of Mississippi, following an intense legal battle in the federal courts. In 1966, Meredith planned a solo 220-mile March Against Fear from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi to highlight continuing racism in the South and to encourage voter registration after passage of the Voting Rights Act. On the second day, he was shot by Aubrey James Norvell, a white man, and suffered numerous wounds. Leaders of major organizations vowed to complete the march in his name after he was taken to the hospital. During his recovery, more people from across the country became involved as marchers. Meredith rejoined the march, and when he and other leaders entered Jackson on June 26, they were leading an estimated 15,000 marchers in what was the largest civil rights march in Mississippi.

Jack Thornell won the 1967 Pulitzer Prize for his iconic photograph that captured the shooting incident.

On verso: date stamps and typewritten label with title and date affixed.

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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  • Overall Dimensions: 6 13/16 x 4 in. (17.3 x 10.16 cm) Measured by Hudson, Karen

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