Growing up in North Carolina, John White's instinct for news showed up early. One night his father, a pastor, forced the family to hide in a bedroom. But White peeked out the window to see a flaming cross burning in their yard. He has endured many instances of racial violence, but his parents taught White to answer racism with love.
A staff photographer for the Chicago Sun-Times, White is one of the most celebrated news photographers of our time. Not many newspaper photographers are forced to wear white gloves just to look at their own work, as he did when he viewed his images in the National Archives recently.
His career spans four decades, covering life's common moments as well as important national issues. White received the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 1982. He has more than 300 awards to his name and has taught workshops in 14 countries. "Thanks to God, I've seen the world," he says.
Of all White's accomplishments, perhaps one assignment that stays with him most is a picture he never took. As a young photographer in North Carolina, he was scheduled to photograph Martin Luther King Jr. It was an unprecedented opportunity to meet his hero. But King made a last-minute schedule change and went to Memphis instead. King was assassinated later that day.
During his career, White has worked out questions about injustice with his camera and his faith. "In God's plan, all things work together. At times I don't see that," White admits. "I just have to be faithful."
White uses his camera to celebrate life and culture. "I like pictures that make the heart smile." "Portrait of Black Chicago," an essay on the daily lives of African Americans, is now part of the National Archives. He published two books of photos on the life ...1
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John H. White: Mercy Over Justice
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