On May 17, 1957, through the generosity of Bayard Rustin, Lee Friedlander was given full access to photograph the participants of the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in Washington, D.C. This extraordinary event, organized by Mr. Rustin, as well as A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., brought together many of the great thinkers and leaders of the period, and was a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement.
Friedlander’s photographs depict the famous individuals at the event?Mahalia Jackson, Ruby Dee and Harry Belafonte, among many other luminaries of the African-American community?but they also pay particular attention to the 25,000 men, women and children who gathered to give voice and energy to the ideas embattled by the movement.
The 58 previously unpublished photographs gathered here are among Friedlander’s earliest work. Also included in this publication is the typescript of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Give Us the Ballot” speech and additional ephemera from the march produced in facsimile.