Charles Moore, the celebrated Black Star photographer whose searing images of violence and injustice during the Civil Rights Era helped mobilize U.S. public opinion toward change, died last week at the age of 79. The Black Star family joins the world in mourning him.
Ben Chapnick, Black Star’s president, has had the privilege of discussing Moore and his legacy in interviews with the news media since the legendary photographer’s passing. His comments to NPR’s “All Things Considered” sum up what made Moore special:
He was not a cool, detached photographer. He was very viscerally involved with everything he photographed.
He had one thing that most of the other photographers didn’t have: he insisted on getting in close. Very rarely, if ever, did he use a long lens. He was always right in the middle, and quite often, you’ll see him in other people’s pictures.
This insistence on getting in close reflected Moore’s bravery. But Moore was “in close” — and in deep — in more ways than one. He was a Hackleburg, Ala., native taking pictures that many fellow white Alabamans considered a betrayal of their race.
As Moore once told USA Today:
To people who were really bigoted, I was the worst enemy, a Southern boy working for Life. I knew the South. . . . I also knew how to talk back to racists.
A collection of Moore’s photographs can be found in “Powerful Days: The Civil Rights Photography of Charles Moore.” Below are just a few of his many historic images.
All photos © Charles Moore/Black Star