by Noah Taborda on September 2, 2021
TOPEKA — Richard Frishman sees the pervasiveness of racism and oppression throughout much of America’s built environment.
In March 2018, the Pulitzer-nominated photographer set out to document locations emblematic of racial injustices, including segregated entrances and sites of racial violence. For Frishman, who began his career in photojournalism documenting white supremacist groups and racial tensions, this tour through the darker side of U.S. architecture is an honest look at the beliefs and behaviors of the times.
“History is all around us wherever we live, and it’s usually hidden by our own absolute banality, our assumptions and ignorance,” Frishman said. “I want people to open their eyes and be curious about what they’re seeing and ask, ‘Why is that there? What purpose did it serve?’ ”
Frishman has spent the past three weeks driving across the country photographing spots including “colored” entrances to movie theaters, drive-in restaurants and Greyhound stops, adding to his project “Ghosts of Segregation.” A traveling exhibit featuring many of the images he has captured so far debuts Sept. 10 at the Lawrence Arts Center.
Funding for this program is provided by Humanities Kansas, a nonprofit cultural organization connecting communities with history, traditions, and ideas to strengthen civic life.