Thursday, March 09, 2006

Che and B.A.M.M.

B.A.M.M. stood for Black Afro Militant Movement. It was a rather radical Black Power group, a Hate Whitey sort of thing that was springing up as blacks' expectations weren't being met fast enough by traditional protests and freedom rides. The laws weren't changing and the jobs weren't materializing. Black people were still struggling to get to the bottom rung a century after the slaves were freed. Groups like this were springing up around the country, Che and the Cuban revolution their hero and ideal. Uncle Sam and the white middle class weren't exactly happy about this turn of events. Some feared major civil unrest and armed confrontations. So I get a call from the editor and he gives me a contact name, a time and an address. Nine PM in the seediest part of black Miami. I showed up on time with a couple of Leica M's and was greeted at the door with a "Whatchoo doin' here, honkey?" (honkey was black slang for a white person at the time) "I'm here to shoot some photos for an article. They said you were expecting me" I replied. We went back and forth for a few minutes, they asked me why I wasn't acting scared, finally they let me in when I told them that if they wanted the article about them to appear in the paper we needed the photos. Take it or leave it! So they reluctantly let me in, we chatted a bit as I set up the cameras. This shot was with a 50/1.4 Nikkor on my M4 with Ilford HP4 film. Things did start changing, the movement lost momentum, and we never did have an armed insurrection. Today when I chat with young blacks, college students mostly, who are often the children of college grads themselves, they have no idea about what things were like just two generations ago.


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