With "Love or Leave America" emblazoned on the side of their convertible, five Italian-American women declare their patriotism in no uncertain terms. In the background, a group of African-Americans watches the festivities, unable to participate. The occasion: an Independence Day parade in 1941.
For Walker Evans, who sought to photograph uniquely American subjects, this stark juxtaposition illustrated the country's conflicted pursuit of cultural diversity and segregation. Although Evans was not interested in making social statements, he was keenly aware of the disparity between the lives of those in the parade and those who watched from the sidelines.
Walker Evans made this image in Bridgeport, Connecticut, many years before the civil rights movement, while on assignment with Fortune magazine. It was published in a September, 1941 article, entitled "Bridgeport's War Factories."