White House Boys Photos

(read on for details)

First, please read about the Dart Award that Tampabay Times photographer Edmund Fountain won as seen in The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma on Nov 2, 2011.  Then the info about the January 8, 2013 exhibit follows.

The Hurt In Their Eyes

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain / St. Petersburg Times:
“I don’t want to see anyb ...

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain / St. Petersburg Times: “I don’t want to see anybody who made a mistake like I did go through what I did in there,” says Matthew Schroeder. Schroeder was held at the Florida School For Boys for almost a year. He recounted horrific abuse and medical neglect in the Dart Award-winning St. Petersburg Times series, "For Their Own Good."

For the reporters of "For Their Own Good" — the Dart Award-winning St. Petersburg Times series on the lasting effects of physical abuse at the Florida School for Boys — having dozens of sources was a double-bind. Many men repeating the same story established the history of abuse at the school, extending over decades. The consistency of their descriptions gave each individual greater credibility. But in the writing, even the most memorable details — "blood on the walls, bits of lip or tongue on the pillow, the smell of urine and whiskey, the way the bed springs sang with each blow" — risked becoming dull if they were repeated again and again.

The photographer on the team, Edmund Fountain, faced the same challenge of balancing the systemic with the individual, but in a different form. He took portraits of all of the men they interviewed, and he spoke with the Dart Center about his approach.

In each photograph, an individual human being confronts the viewer with a palpable sense of vulnerability and hurt. But instead of being diminished as they are replaced by others in a multimedia presentation or laid out next to others in newsprint (PDF), the effect accumulates. It is, perhaps, the visual equivalent of the one passage in the written story that takes advantage of the men's sheer numbers, by invoking their names:Boys were dragged to the White House in ones and twos and threes, and sometimes there was a line outside, and sometimes a white dog kept watch.

Here came Marshall Drawdy, Eddie Horne, Robert Lundy, Manuel Giddens . . .

And Jerry Cooper, snatched from his bed at midnight and dragged through the dark, bare feet over wet grass.

Shut your f------ mouth! one of the men told him. What do you know about a runner?

Just outside the door he saw a limp figure lying still. A boy. Blood on his pajamas.

And Larry Houston, Bryant Middleton, Donald Stratton . . .

And William Horne, waiting to go through the door when he heard a boy scream inside.

Then: I think we done killed him.

And Charles Rambo, George Goewey, James Griffin . . .

And Roger Kiser, a scrawny orphan. The stench hit him as he walked through the door. He tripped and fell and a man grabbed him and slung him on the bloody mattress. Over his shoulder, he could see that the man only had one arm.

Bite that pillow.

And Paul Carrin, Michael Greenway, Henry Williams, Roy Conerly, Willie Roberts, John Brodnax, Frank Marx, from different cottages, different years, different circumstances, the same destination.

And Willy Haynes, who had asked the judge to send him here, who had wanted to throw a football under the pines. Over 18 months, the men dragged Willy into the White House again and again.

Lay down. Hold the rail. Don't make a sound.

He could hear the strap coming. It started with the pivot, the shuffle of boots on concrete. The strap hit the wall, then the ceiling, then thighs and buttocks and back, and it felt like an explosion.

When he got back to the cottage, Willy stood in the shower and let the cold water wash bits of underwear from his lacerations, as his blood ran toward the drain.

Read the Dart Award-winning series "For Their Own Good."

Read more about the
Dart Awards.

Tampa Bay Times Photographer Discusses Dozier School for Boys Project

A picture is worth a thousand words. But sometimes, there's still something left to be said.

On Tuesday at 7 p.m., Tampa Bay Times photographer Edmund D. Fountain will discuss his work on the newspaper's much-lauded series For Their Own Good, about child abuse at the Dozier School for Boys in North Florida. The talk will take place at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, at 400 N Ashley Drive in downtown Tampa. It's free and open to the public.

Fountain will discuss Dozier project "not in terms of journalism but in terms of a creative, artistic perspective," he said. He and writers Ben Montgomery and Waveney Ann Moore have been documenting the investigation for four years and counting.

"Most newspaper photographers are lucky if they get six months to work on a story," Fountain said. "Four years is sort of unheard of."

Dedicating so much time to the story allowed Fountain to follow its twists and turns.

"A lot of the [photos] I'm going to show didn't seem to have a lot of importance in 2005 or 2008 when we started doing this, but now they make sense," he said.

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