Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
September 28, 2015

The Pope’s US Trip as it Touched on Race

schoolboys await Pope Reuters

Whatever you feel about the Pope, what made his U.S. tour so infectious was his persistent idealism and his appeal to our better selves. If nothing else, it presented a dramatic contrast to the cynicism and divisiveness that permeates our society and its representation. I imagine that same disillusionment would cause people to scoff at so many spirited and joyful images from the trip, or else pigeonhole them as “too Norman Rockwell.”

If so, a photo like this must test the bounds — the vision based not just on stronger faith or greater love, but also on Francisco’s uncompromising advocacy of more progressive policy.

Although the Pope more typically addresses injustice in the context of class, his concern over racial strife was implicit in quoting MLK at the White House as he opened his trip, and again, in quoting King in his homily to Congress. If just another wire photo, on another level — the hand almost touching his name — it’s a call-and-response.

(photo: Gary Cameron/Reuters: caption: Two schoolboys await Francis’s departure from the Apostolic Nunciature. September 24,2015. Washington, D.C.)

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