Jacob Riis and the Muckrakers of the Gilded Age.
What does this have to do with the Immigration Project? For one, Jacob Riis was a Danish immigrant, and two he used photography and journalism to bring about social reform to the immigrant tenements and slums--such as Gangs of New York's Five Points--of Victorian New York City.
Here are some examples of his work:
Riis' photography, magical lantern shows, and books including, How the Other Half Lives, brought the struggle of the poor to the attention of the upper class and people in power, namely New York City Police Commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt (newly discovered as my favorite U.S. President). Roosevelt and Riis' time together lead to a life long friendship and partnership in working towards social reform.
If Jacob Riis was alive now, he may have a blog. If he could see our modern world he may wonder what had changed, if anything. Today, is not much different from his day. There is still a hugely unequal distribution of wealth, the upper class continues to give a blind eye to the struggles of the poor, and the middle and lower classes blame immigrants for the poor state of the job market, housing, and wealth. And so we as artists must ask, WWJD? What would Jacob do?
He would rake the muck and so should we.