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Photographer’s KKK series receives added accolades

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. (BP)–An investigative photo series by James Edward Bates about the Ku Klux Klan has received several honors after its initial publication in Baptist Press. Baptist Press has worked jointly with Bates on this project for over two years of the nearly five years he has been pursuing this work.

The series has been selected for the 15th International Festival of Photojournalism, Aug. 30-Sept. 14 in Paris, and it has been displayed on the website of ZUMA Press, one of the media’s top providers of editorial photography based in Laguna Beach, Calif.

Bates’ initial KKK photography series, titled “As Different as night and day,” was published by Baptist Press on Feb. 7. It contrasted the family of a Klansman in Mississippi with a former Klan imperial wizard-turned-evangelist in Oklahoma.

Bates’ work has been featured on the Internet homepage for the 15th International Festival of Photojournalism, an event that seeks to advance the field of press photography. The threefold aim of the conference is “the discovery of new talents, the rediscovery of the greatest photographers, and the confirmation of photographers that are known already.”

Bates’ display on the ZUMA website is titled, “Racial Challenges: The 21st Century Ku Klux Klan.”

ZUMA noted that Bates’ KKK project “is drawing significant attention.” It reflects “over five years of work to record the beliefs, traditions and activities of the Ku Klux Klan, an organization associated with a long history of violence and racial intolerance. While many of us would like to think of the KKK as an organization from a bygone era, Bates demonstrates that it’s still very active today.

“Born and raised in the racially charged state of Mississippi, Bates envisions this as the first chapter in a lifelong commitment to document not only racial divides in the U.S. but throughout the world,” the ZUMA website continues. “Remaining objective throughout this project is important to Bates. ‘It is not my place to judge the beliefs of the individuals or groups documented,’ he said. ‘My work is about communication. It is key to opening any opportunity for change. Perhaps my efforts to give these people a voice will provide a window for them to hear the voice of others.”

Additionally, Jim Petty, founder of Middle Passage, Inc., parent company of the Middle Passage and African American History Museum, told Baptist Press that the museum hopes to place some of Bates’ KKK project in its permanent collection. Architectural plans for the museum in Mobile, Ala., and artists’ renditions of permanent exhibits are under development. The museum currently operates a traveling exhibit of more than 250 artifacts from slavery through the civil rights movement that has been displayed in a dozen U.S. cities.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo title: FATHER TO SON.

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