NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It, the WORLD Radio History Book. Today, a first in the sport of boxing and the start of the Korean War.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: But first, the 170th anniversary of a bloody uprising in France—remembered more today for a photograph than the political fall-out of the protest itself. Here’s Paul Butler.
PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Today we begin with June 25th, 1848. An ameteur photographer takes a daguerreotype image of an empty Paris street. The image isn’t particularly memorable, but what makes it remarkable is its context.
A few days earlier, after learning that the government would cancel the National Workshop welfare program, thousands of French laborers filled the streets in retaliation, throwing up hundreds of barricades throughout Paris, but the National Guard quickly puts down the unrest—killing or injuring as many as 10,000 people.
The image of an empty avenue is a striking commentary on the power of the state to take care of revolutionaries. An engraving of the photograph is published a few days later in a French newspaper — making it the first known instance of photojournalism.
WILKINSON: Photojournalism to me is the pursuit of truth through a photograph.
Curt Wilkinson is associate professor of communication arts at the College of the Ozarks.
WILKINSON: A photo journalist has to do their very best to take a picture that the community at large will be able to understand and that the truth of what they’ve witnessed is the truth that is expressed through the photograph.
Photojournalism proved a powerful force. Pictures during the Great Depression softened the nation’s heart to the struggles of migrant workers. Images of attack dogs and water hoses made racial equality a government priority. But photographs have their limitations.
WILKINSON: The problem with images is they don’t tell the whole story. And so many times, photographers who are pursuing a story are looking for that iconic image that will make their point, but the danger is that you can take things out of context.
Today, concerns over staged photos and digitally manipulated images lead to increased skepticism, but the rise of social media and greater accessibility to good cameras means more people can participate in photojournalism than ever before.
Next, June 28th, 1948.
AUDIO: BOXING RING
British Boxer Dick Turpin beats Vince Hawkins at Villa Park in Birmingham, England. The match lasts 15 rounds in front of 40-thousand spectators. Turpin’s victory makes him the first black British boxing champion in the modern era.
Dick Turpin made his boxing premiere when he was 18 years old. He was a dominant force in the ring, but from 19-11 until 19-48, non-whites were barred from title matches in Britain.
ANNOUNCER: …tried to get past the British champion’s defense, but without success…
Turpin’s younger brothers also became famous boxers. Together, the three Turpins helped pave the way for black boxers to compete at the highest level of the sport—not only in Britain, but around the world.
And finally, June 25th, 1950, the start of the Korean War.
NEWS REEL: South Korean villages awoke to a world, suddenly filled with the noise and flame as communists….
Audio from a 1950 Universal Newsreel. On June 27th, the UN Security Council approves a United States sponsored resolution calling for military action against North Korea. The U.S. provides nearly 90 percent of the force.
President Harry S. Truman explains his support for U.S. involvement:
TRUMAN: The fact that communist forces have invaded Korea is a warning that there may be similar acts of aggression in other parts of the world…
Within two months, UN forces are on the verge of victory, until China enters the combat, allying with the North. None of the countries officially declared war, so the conflict becomes known as a “police action” and is soon a stalemate. Peace negotiations last for two years before an armistice finally takes effect on July 27th, 1953.
NEWSREEL: We have stopped the shooting, that means much to the fighting men and their families…
The agreement was not a peace treaty, but rather terms for prisoner exchange and the establishment of a Demilitarized Zone separating the North and South. The two sides are technically still at war, though earlier this year they signed the “Declaration of Peace”—a big step toward officially ending the Korean war.
That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.