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The Post-COVID Lessons of Dorothea Lange

What a Covid America needs to learn from Dorothea Lange

Opinion by Tess Taylor

Often, these days, I find myself thinking about what Americans struggling to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic might learn from Dorothea Lange.

Many people remember Lange as the Bay Area photographer who worked with the Farm Security Administration during the New Deal, photographing the living conditions of migrant laborers amid the Great Depression. Even now, her shots are iconic: White Angel Breadline, a relief and food line photographed outside her San Francisco studio in 1932; a careworn woman with three kids, taken in Nipomo, California, 1936, which came to be known as Migrant Mother.

Other Lange shots frame uneasy juxtapositions: “On the road to Los Angeles,” shows itinerant men carrying their bundles up a long road under a billboard that reads: “Next time try the train.” Lange also made poignant records of the tragic and shameful moment when Japanese Americans, a huge number of whom were minors, were forcibly removed from their homes and transported to internment camps. In fact, the subjects Lange photographed — migrancy in the face of climate change, American internment, the fragility and beauty of the land that feeds us — were eerily prescient. Read the full opinion at CNN.

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