Photography on the Front Lines

Whether rooted in social equality or politically charged, non-violent demonstrations are a necessary element in demanding nation-wide change. Participants sympathetic to the cause were called to the frontlines to amplify the voices of their unheard brothers and sisters when conditions verged on unbearable. One can see in these images that many were unafraid of the consequences that came with both figuratively and literally standing in the way of the oppressor. 

Photographers captured moments of heroism on the frontlines of protest.  Viewers at home connected with the emotion and dedication that ran through the veins of the participants of the movement. These photos show more than just the dedication these individuals had to a cause. They show hurt, confusion, and the willingness to stand up—all traits that prove extremely hard to maintain. Their fight is emotionally and physically demanding. Yet, activists persisted with those who felt the pain of the oppressed standing alongside.  

WEEGEE (Arthur Fellig)

Civil Right Marchers, Harlem, New York

ca. 1940

View Larger

Artist Unknown

Suffrage March

View Larger

"Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still."

Dorothea Lange

Bill Strode

Ollie “Widow” Combs standing in front of bulldozer, Knott County, Kentucky

November 1965

Read More

Artist Unknown

Face to Face: a demonstrator confronts National Guard troops…

August 28, 1968

View Larger

Danny Lyon

Demonstrations at an “all-white” swimming pool in Cairo, Illinois


View Larger

Ivan Massar

Man leaning on fence with pipe at the Civil Rights March on Washington


View Larger

Leonard Freed

Demonstrators with pamphlets at Gay Liberation March, New York City


View Larger