Book Review: Humanity in the Streets

Book Review: Humanity in the Streets

No Vietnamese Ever Called Me, © Builder Levy

No Vietnamese Ever Called Me, © Builder Levy

By Natalie Almeida

Humanity in the Streets, a collection presented by Builder Levy, based in New York City and containing an array of black and white shots within the city and the social happenings between the 1960s and 1980s. In these decades, people around the world were struggling for freedom and independence. They marched in the streets to seek a better life, one offering justice and peace.

May Day, 1965, © Builder Levy

May Day, 1965, © Builder Levy

Included, are civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protests, the peace march held in 1962 in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and images of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. after his speech at Carnegie Hall. In support of quality, integrated education for all NYC children, and ending police brutality, students and their communities were also included.

Students with Signs, at the citywide school boycott rally, near headquarters of the New York City Board of Education, Downtown Brooklyn, 1964, © Builder Levy

Students with Signs, at the citywide school boycott rally, near headquarters of the New York City Board of Education, Downtown Brooklyn, 1964, © Builder Levy

Levy started as an art major at Brooklyn College, where he considered himself an abstract expressionist. Shortly after his work in painting and sculpting, he soon realized his need for a stronger social connection. His interest for the social realities of life and society is what led him to the camera.

Medallion Lords, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, 1965, © Builder Levy

Medallion Lords, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, 1965, © Builder Levy

The reasoning behind Humanity in the Streets was to question and affirm the notion of humanity. Pictures of various races and genders are shown unified, as he photographs the racial and economic diversity within a neighborhood.

Group in Hall, Concord High School, Staten Island, 1989, © Builder Levy

Group in Hall, Concord High School, Staten Island, 1989, © Builder Levy

Levy wants to be immersed in the lives and struggles of humanity. While out on the streets, alongside his subjects, he identifies with the causes he captures. His photography brings him directly to the streets, where he attends rallies and marches for civil rights, peace and justice.

Vietnam Veterans Against the War, National Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam, Manhattan, April 15, 1967, © Builder Levy

Vietnam Veterans Against the War, National Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam, Manhattan, April 15, 1967, © Builder Levy

This collection depicts a world that Levy knew well; a documentation of the world going on around him. He displays a visual story of a chapter in a city and a nation's history in hopes to bring some structure out of the mayhem. All his photographs are soaring with human spirit, the children, protesters, and passersby. Their passion is what drives them to stand up for their own rights within humanity.

Humanity in the Streets was published by Damiani in 2018.

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