Alexander McAllister Rivera Jr. was a prolific photojournalist and a foremost public relations specialist. Well-known for his long association with North Carolina Central University, his livelihood and professional career extended well beyond Durham, North Carolina. Rivera Jr. not only created a body of work that preserved critical aspects of African American and American history on the local, state, national, and international levels, he also personified the philosophies of confidentiality and anonymity essential in the field of public relations to maneuver and operate in the complex environment of national and state politics.
His career allowed him to witness, report, and participate to some degree on key historical events in the early-to-mid twentieth century, provided him connections to black communities across the country, and access to some of most powerful and influential people in the United States. He had unparalleled breath concerning the emerging struggle for equality.
This work will introduce Rivera Jr. - whose photojournalistic and public relations work has been ignored or underappreciated - to the historical record.
Glen Anthony Harris is associate professor in the Department of History at University of North Carolina Wilmington.
Chapter 1: The Ties That Bind: From the Wilmington Colored Educational Institute to the Wilmington Massacre
Chapter 2: Absence Democracy, Life and Death are Real: The Initial Push for Social Justice
Chapter 3: The Pittsburgh Courier, Epps v. Carmichael and McKissick v. Carmichael
Chapter 4: Clarendon County, Brown v The Board of Education, and the Southern Odyssey.
Chapter 5: Perceptions of an International Correspondent: Richard Nixon, Africa, and Europe
Chapter 6: The Brilliance of Public Relations
Conclusion: The Continuum of Historical Research
Glen Harris’s biography of Alexander McAllister Rivera Jr. provides an engaging exploration of the life and times of the famed photographer. In addition to providing a meticulously researched history of Rivera, Harris guides the reader on a journey that will compel a deeper engagement of the backstories behind many of his iconic photographs and African American life and culture in North Carolina. This work will be a much-welcomed addition to the libraries of scholars interested in how African Americans negotiated Jim Crow America and how Rivera illuminated and interpreted these times with his camera.
This is an important study of the life of the 20th century journalist, photographer, and press officer, Alexander McAllister Rivera Jr. Glen Harris’s fine biography makes a critical contribution to the story of the Black press, the African American freedom struggle, and the history of Black colleges.
The history of the black press continues to be an ever more relevant area of study for what it reveals about the institution’s role in the civil rights movement. In Social Justice and Liberation Struggles, historian Glen Anthony Harris walks us through the life, career, and activism of Alexander M. Rivera, Jr., one of the country’s most formidable photojournalists in the twentieth century. Rivera’s namesake, as well as his journalistic and family roots, go back to the 1898 Wilmington Massacre, with linkages to Wilmington Daily Record newspaper editor Alexander Manly. This book stands as a true testament to the power and courage of the pen, typewriter, and photograph in documenting the daily injustices African Americans faced during the latter century. Through thoughtful and precise commentary and analysis, Harris offers a superbly written narrative complete with authoritative pacing and command of a worthy subject.