James Baldwin & the Elevator Man

One day when he was in high school, the budding poet James Baldwin visited a friend -- the future photographer Richard Avedon -- in his apartment. The elevator operator ordered Baldwin, who was black, to take the steps at the back of the building. When Avedon informed his mother of this injustice, she promptly called for the elevator and, upon its arrival, punched the operator in the face.

[Avedon later produced a photographic chronicle of the Civil Rights crisis in the South. After receiving death threats over the telephone, he left his motel at 3:00 a.m. and hid out in (and photographed) a mental institution.]

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