The Arkansas Delta has been called the soul of the South, a place ruled by race, a forgotten place. Eugene Richards first went there in 1969, a year after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a time when cotton, religion, prejudice, and poverty characterized most people’s lives. Increasingly drawn to this beautiful, sorrowful place, Richards would stay for four years, until the community service organization and newspaper he helped found were forced to close. But over the years he would keep returning. Red Ball of a Sun Slipping Down speaks of life in the Arkansas Delta forty years go and today. Black-and-white photographs made long years ago are interwoven with recent color photographs and, in turn, with a short story.
Eugene Richards, an editorial photographer, filmmaker, and writer, was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He published his first book, Few Comforts or Surprises: The Arkansas Delta in 1973. Richards’s subsequent books include Stepping Through the Ashes (2002), an elegy to those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001; The Fat Baby (2004), a collection of fifteen photographic essays produced both on and off assignment; A Procession of Them (2008), which chronicles the plight of the world’s mentally disabled, The Blue Room (2008), a study of the forgotten and abandoned houses of rural America; War Is Personal (2010), a chronicle of the human cost of the Iraq war; and Red Ball of a Sun Slipping Down (2014).
Among numerous honors, Richards has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Kraszna-Kraus Book Award, the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography, and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Journalism Award for coverage of the disadvantaged.