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Capturing History Through My Lens At The Civil Rights Summit

Lizzie Chen and team

Lizzie Chen and team

The following story was submitted by Lizzie Chen, Southwest Key Programs Multimedia Specialist Austin, TX.

I had a rare opportunity on April 8-10th to assist former White House photographer, David Hume Kennerly at the Civil Rights Summit held at the LBJ Presidential Library located on the University of Texas at Austin campus.

“We have come some of the way, not near all of it. There is much left to do”– Lyndon B. Johnson 4/11/1968

Kennerly won a Pulitzer Prize in 1972 in the Feature Photography category for his portfolio of the Vietnam War. He has also photographed every American president since Richard Nixon.

Rev. Jesse Jackson

AUSTIN, APRIL 10– Reverend Jesse Jackson takes questions from the press at the Texas Performing Arts Center after President Barack Obama’s keynote address. Photo by Lizzie Chen

The Civil Rights Summit was held at the LBJ Presidential Library to mark the 50th Anniversary of President Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush joined President Barack Obama to speak at the summit.

What an experience! I learned a lot from Kennerly and the team of LBJ Library photographers including former White House Photographer to George W. Bush, Eric Draper. It was incredible to hear them tell me the stories behind the iconic historical images they took. I could not believe I was editing the photos of these legendary artists I admired. What I really took away from this experience is to shoot everything because you never know when you are capturing a moment that will become history.

Besides assisting the White House photographers, I also had the opportunity to photograph a few of the speakers including Dr. Bernice King, Martin Luther King’s daughter, Julian Bond, former Chairman of the NAACP and Reverend Jesse Jackson. It was truly an honor to stand in front of these civil rights leaders and activists who formed a pathway to equality in America. To this day, I still cannot believe that I shook the hand of Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter.

Lizzie Chen with Julian Bond and Bernice King.

Lizzie Chen with Julian Bond and Bernice King.

I also photographed some UT students protesting the rate of immigrant deportations occurring under the current administration. The protest occurred outside the summit. A large crowd marched from a statue of Martin Luther King, located on the University of Texas at Austin’s East Mall, to the Texas Performing Arts Center, also on campus, as President Obama’s motorcade passed. I listened to the stories told by the students of families being torn apart due to strict immigration laws as I captured their emotions through my lens.

Edaly Cardenas, student at the University of Texas at Austin

AUSTIN — APRIL 10: Edaly Cardenas, student at the University of Texas at Austin, becomes emotional during a protest on deportation before President Barack Obama arrives to speak at the Civil Rights Summit. Photo by Lizzie Chen

Photography is a powerful tool for remembering history and is also a key witness to the stories that are happening today. I feel honored that Southwest Key welcomed me into the familia to capture our stories and bring the faces of our clients and our staff to life.

Texas A&M student, Issac Chavez

AUSTIN — APRIL 10: Texas A&M student, Issac Chavez protesting immigration reform during President Barack Obama’s arrival to the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library. Photo by Lizzie Chen