Photographer Boyd Lewis witnessed an Atlanta in flux.
Working for Atlanta’s alternative press in the 1970s, he captured the protests that erupted into the streets, the alternative culture that consumed Midtown and the rise of civil rights leaders who became the city’s new political leaders.
Boyd Lewis would be a fixture in Atlanta’s journalism world for decades; his resume includes time at WABE. But his photos of Atlanta in the 1970s, in particular, continue to fascinate people today. A selection of them are now on display at the Atlanta History Center’s Margaret Mitchell House.
Curator Paul Crater gave WABE a tour of the exhibit, pointing out the many photos of civil rights leaders like Andrew Young and Julian Bond. His acceptance as a white reporter into the African-American community is why Boyd Lewis was dubbed the “white boy with the black press,” Crater said.
A selection of photos on display also tell the story of Midtown and Piedmont Park, which in the 1970s, Crater said, was home to hippies and sometimes groups like Hare Krishna. Through the windows of the Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown, where the exhibit is located, visitors can see how the neighborhood evolved into something very different -- an upscale neighborhood filled with new developments.
Finally, Crater highlighted the scenes in the exhibit that truly inspired Boyd Lewis — photos of interracial togetherness. This part of the collection includes a photo of a white older women dancing with a young black man and kids, white and black, playing together in playgrounds.
“Boyd was a true believer in the message of [Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.],” Crater said, “and he saw Atlanta in the 1970s as a wonderful time where Dr. King’s spirit was still in sight.”
The exhibit called, “Flashback: Atlanta in the 70s, The Photography of Boyd Lewis,” is on display through 2016. Lewis now lives in Los Angeles.