Coverage of the project

The subject of MLK Blvds etc. came up on the January 15, 2007 installment of the African-American roundtable, on News & Notes on NPR. Host Farai Chideya introduced one question by noting that for people her age (I think she’s in her 30s):

By the time [people our age] reached our tweens or our teens, you had MLK Boulevards all over the country, and usually they were in some of the most jacked-up neighborhoods that you will ever find. So there was this complexity that I had in my mind: Why are they going to honor this man by naming the dingiest, dead-end street after him? … Hearing the words Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. don’t necessarily bring hope to younger generations the way they did to previous generations…

After this project was brought to the attention of News & Notes, it was mentioned on the show, and linked from NPR’s Web site.

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The project has also gotten some Boing Boing attention.

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And a mention on Core77, too.

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The Online Journalism Review (“Flickr, Buzznet expand citizens’ role in visual journalism”) writes:

This dream of a global photo album, compiled in real time by amateur and professional shooters, hasn’t quite materialized, but photo-sharing services such as Flickr and Buzznet are giving us glimpses into that future….

These are baby steps toward what might become a revolution in visual journalism — broadening the variety of images we see on news sites and in print publications to include more than just traditional photojournalism….

Walker, who pens the “Consumed” column for the New York Times Magazine, was attracted to Flickr because of its decidedly non-commercial bent. He had long been curious if his stereotype of Martin Luther King boulevards — “an awful lot of abandoned property, scary-looking bars, and small groceries that accept food stamps” — was really accurate. Even though there had been newspaper specials and a book on the same subject, Walker believed there was a place for an ongoing, open-ended, “open journalism” view of MLK boulevards.

“I’m already a journalist, I can already write something with my point of view,” Walker told me. “With Flickr, I can say here’s an interesting subject, and throw it open to others. … I think there’s an advantage to having it open-ended, because I could have an unlimited number of people contributing to this in an unlimited number of places over an unlimited amount of time.” …

“Flickr is a real community and you don’t want to come storming in and say, ‘Everybody do as I say.’ It doesn’t work like that,” Walker said. “There are a lots of people doing interesting things there, and I want to respect that. What I’m leading up to is to send messages to everybody who might be interested, saying I like your stuff and would like you to join this, if you’re interested.”


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Interesting overview of “Visual Journalism and Internet Photo Sharing” by Marti Howell, from December 2005. (Cites this project.)

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The Urban Commons writes:

I find the idea of exploring the stereotypes associated with certain urban areas by documenting them in this way fascinating. Too often, our perception of space is influenced by only a few images or a single narrative, especially -tragically- when it comes to black or poor neighborhoods. East Oakland thus becomes defined almost entirely by crime, and MLK/West Oakland by images of urban decay. Nothing else gets reported, and a culture of fear and alienation about our cities spreads.

These pictures of MLK Blvds illustrate some of that poverty, but more often they show the diversity of the MLK experience from accross the country. The beautiful, the touching and at times, even the humorous find their way into the collection of pictures. Together, they create a fuller and hopefully truer representation of these urban landscapes.


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