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Oral history interview with Billy E. Barnes, November 6, 2003

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Creator:Barnes, Billy E. (Billy Ebert), 1931-
Creator:Gritter, Elizabeth
Creator:Southern Oral History Program
Title:Oral history interview with Billy E. Barnes, November 6, 2003
Date:2003 Nov. 6

Billy E. Barnes became a photographer during the late 1950s, following a tour of duty in the Korean War and his return to college in North Carolina. Barnes begins the interview with a brief discussion of his initial interest in photography and his first job with McGraw-Hill Publishing Company in New York City and in Atlanta, Georgia. After working for McGraw-Hill for several years and establishing a reputation for himself as a documentary photographer, Barnes returned to North Carolina to work for the North Carolina Fund (1964-1968), an offshoot of Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty. Barnes argues that as a photographer for the North Carolina Fund, he was able to lend a human face to the Fund's more impersonal collecting of statistics about the experiences of impoverished people in North Carolina. According to Barnes, his photographs documented the lives of impoverished people as part of a larger effort to debunk negative myths and stereotypes about welfare and poor people. He explains that he always strove to depict the strength, dignity, and pride of his subjects, and offers several anecdotes about some of his favorite photographs, which he explains told stories about the private, everyday lives of poor people. In addition, Barnes speaks at length about the widespread dissemination of his photographs in both local and national media, as well as its use by the Office of Economic Opportunity. Most of the interview focuses on Barnes's work with the North Carolina Fund, but he also discusses changing technologies for photography, the influence of other photographers, and his broader views on the principles of photography.

The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the aggregation and enhancement of partner metadata.

Types:Transcripts | Sound recordings | Oral histories (document genres) | Text | Sound
Subjects:Barnes, Billy E. (Billy Ebert), 1931- | Photographers--North Carolina | North Carolina Fund--Employees | Documentary photography--North Carolina | Photojournalism--North Carolina | Poor--North Carolina | Ku Klux Klan (1915- ) | United States, North Carolina, 35.759573, -79.0193
Collection:Oral Histories of the American South: The Civil Rights Movement
Institution:Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Contributors:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Documenting the American South (Project)
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Forms part of Oral histories of the American South collection.

Persistent Link to Item:http://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/O-0038/menu.html