45 Years Later. Boston City Hall Plaza Meets A New Mayor.

According to Wikipedia, The Soiling of Old Glory is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph taken by Stanley Forman during the Boston busing crisis in 1976. It depicts a white teenager, Joseph Rakes, assaulting a black man—lawyer and civil rights activist Ted Landsmark—with a flagpole bearing the American flag (also known as Old Glory). I believe the first time that I set eyes on this photo was as a Swampscott High School freshman in a 1979 current events/history class. Every SINGLE time that I walk near or on this ground, I feel something. I always give at least a moment’s pause to think about the photo, think about the hurt that came from that assault, from that time. Today, I was given the assignment to: “be near the State St. MBTA station at 9:15am, and photograph (the new) Mayor’s first commute/walk to work.” I knew where Mayor Wu had to go from point A, the T station, to point B, City Hall. It was not lost on me the difference between today as compared to that moment 45 years ago. I got there 15 minutes early, but not early enough. Her MBTA train was early! I had already plotted-out my course of action, choosing a lens that would correspond with Stanley’s ultra-wide lens. I knew almost exactly where Stan stood, and where the assault on Ted Landsmark occurred, but Mayor Michelle Wu had already passed that area, albeit by just a few feet. I shot this photo. I was so excited, like a kid in a candy store. I started to show my photo to others who were gathered near Wu. Sadly, many did not know what I was talking about. Many thanks to Stanley Forman Photos who is a friend and mentor. I STILL learn something from him every week.

Comments are closed.