RIP, Brian Lanker

Brian Lanker, who took this picture of Septima Clark, died yesterday at 63.

Famed photographer Brian Lanker died yesterday at age 63.

I knew Lanker best from I Dream A World, his collection of portraits of accomplished black women that featured the inimitable Septima Clark on the cover.

Clark taught for years at the Citizenship School at the Highlander Center in New Market, Tennessee.  It was here that Rosa Parks received training in nonviolent disobedience before she was arrested in Montgomery in late 1955.

Here Bernice Johnson gained some of the prodigious courage she has demonstrated during the past half century as she has sung around the world for people’s freedom all over the planet.

Here Becky Simpson learned how to organize against the strip miners who had devastated the land and caused the floods that washed away large parts of her community in 1977.

Septima Clark’s dignified profile and tightly knotted grey hair on the cover hint at the many treats to be found inside.

Readers get to see and learn from luminaries ranging from Alice Walker to Toni Morrison to Faye Wattleton.

Lens, The New York Times’s photography blog, has a touching tribute to Lanker that includes a review of his work.

He will be missed.


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