In My Parents’ House Were Many Books …

One was The Family of Man, which contained the photos from an exhibition (organized by world-famous photographer Edward Steichen) at the Museum of Modern Art in 1955. This book was, in fact, the official book of the exhibition. I don’t know if my parents went to New York to see the exhibit (how I wish I’d asked!) or if they took me (I would have been very young)  … but I know that as a child I loved that book.

I still have it. I asked for it when I left home at eighteen.

This book is a dear friend.

Copyright 1955.

And I can tell you that the book influenced me in profound ways, that I looked at it over and over and over. As a kid. As a teen. As a young adult. The people in the photos are, truly, as familiar to me as my own family. (Oh, but hey—they are.)

I have wondered if my travel-lust has its roots in this book. And I have wondered if my anti-racism has its roots in this book. My husband says it is because these people were different from me that I was fascinated and perhaps that is true. But the lesson here is still the same: current thinking to teach anti-racism is that we must see race, not ignore it (as we were taught fifty years ago—to be colorblind).

The softcover, pictured here, has sold 4 million copies and it is still in print—so I can’t be the only one who has a thing for this book.

 

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