Last modified: Thursday, January 17, 2013
IU archivist available to discuss collection containing photographs of Little Rock desegregation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 17, 2013
EDITORS: Indiana University is home to the photographic collection of the late Will Counts, known for the iconic images he captured when Little Rock Central High School was desegregated in 1957. That event drew the attention of Martin Luther King Jr., whose life will be celebrated across the nation on Monday, Jan. 21.
Counts' photographs of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School -- including what's become known as the "scream image," where Hazel Bryan taunts student Elizabeth Eckford as she walks to class -- captured the atmosphere during an episode that is widely considered one of the most important in the nation's civil rights movement.
The first African-American students to attend the Little Rock, Ark., high school were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus. Known as the "Little Rock Nine," the students attended classes following the intervention of President Eisenhower. As president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, King wrote Eisenhower requesting a swift resolution allowing the students to attend school.
A photographer nearly all his life, Counts was a journalism professor at IU for 32 years. He also worked for the Arkansas-Democrat in Little Rock, Ark., and The Associated Press in Chicago. His entire portfolio of negatives, prints and slides is housed at the IU Archives, a gift from his wife, Vivian, following his death in 2001.
"Without a doubt, having the Will Counts collection in our repository casts light on our photograph collections in general, and the entire repository as a whole," said Bradley Cook, curator of photographs in IU's Office of University Archives and Records Management. "Very much like our Charles Cushman photographs and our IU sports photographs, the Counts photograph collection is one of our most-used photograph collections."