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Crowd-Sourced Photography Project Looks at Appalachia 50 Years After the War on Poverty

Map of Appalachia from the Appalachian Regional Commission

Map of Appalachia from the Appalachian Regional Commission

In the sixties, President Lyndon Johnson made Appalachia a primary target in his War on Poverty. Photographs that ran in magazines such as Life painted a desolate picture of a poverty-torn region, dirty children playing in dilapidated shacks. A half-century later, photographer, blogger, and CDS Certificate in Documentary Arts student Roger May is spearheading a project to craft a more nuanced view of modern Appalachia with a crowd-sourced collection of images from photographers working in the region. May is soliciting submissions for what he describes as an image archive of Appalachia “defined by its people as opposed to political legislation.” Readers can follow the evolution of the project, and view submission guidelines here, from May’s blog, Walk Your Camera.

“Many of the War on Poverty photographs, whether intentional or not, became a visual definition of Appalachia,” May writes. “These images have often drawn from the poorest areas and people to gain support for the intended cause, but unjustly came to represent the entirety of the region while simultaneously perpetuating stereotypes.”

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