Crises, led by reason be it a war, racial or political conflict, or a natural tragedy- they have often tested the human spirit and its survival instinct. These events informed us of what was the worst damage that human being is capable of inflicting on the other through force and coercion, but also the kindest that he can be. Ever since the invention of photography, we have been capturing images and moments that defined history, that touched and moved the collective conscience and some that served as a warning of what savagery-biases, prejudices, and mob behavior were capable of causing.
Here are 10 of the most moving pictures to have won the Pulitzer Prize that acknowledges the best in journalism and art.
These photos, unlike the other winning entries at the Pulitzer, fill you with hope and a sense that after all that we have been through together as a human race, some of us showed exceptional kindness and courage under most unlikely circumstances. They put up a good fight worthy of our human race.
Titled ‘Faith and Confidence’, this picture is one of the most expressive portraits that can soften the stiffest of human hearts, making them submit to the innocence and beauty of this. William C. Beall won the Pulitzer in 1958 for this picture that has Maurice Cullinane, a police officer, bending over to talk to the 2-year-old Allan Weaver. This picture recognizes the contribution of law enforcement agencies especially the times of civic unrest.
In 2017, E. Jason Wambsgans of the Chicago Tribune won the Pulitzer in Feature Photography for an incredibly moving photo series that captured and documented the recovery of Tavon Tanner, a 10-year old African-American boy who was shot in Chicago, Illinois, as the bullet shot through Tanner’s abdominal organs and the left lung before getting lodged just below his shoulder. The series captured the psyche of a 10-year child going through a tragic shooting, his physical and psychological recovery and the intimacy of the mother-son relationship that evolved through the incident.
This picture captures a loving moment between Tanner and his mother Melanie Washington, as he recovers from the traumatic memory and a long painful surgery.
The #Pulitzer said of Wambsgans, “For a superb portrayal of a 10-year-old boy and his mother striving to put the boy’s life back together after he survived a shooting in Chicago, Illinois.”
This was a poignant image of Bernice Albertine King leaning on her mother-Coretta Scott King, wife of the activist leader of American civil rights movement- Martin Luther King Jr. during the King’s funeral after his assassination on April 4, 1968. Moneta Sleet, Jr. of Ebony Magazine won the Feature Photography prize in 1969 for this capture.
An image so powerful, it lingers on. In 2007, Associated Press’s Oded Bality won the Pulitzer in Breaking News Photography for the portrayal of this woman Jewish fighter standing up against the Israeli forces, as a mark of unforgettable defiance. The Israeli forces had arrived on the West Bank to remove the illegal settlers.
A happy life-as-usual picture of two kids. Except that, this was taken in the midst of war in Krek, Cambodia on December 4, 1971, by David Hume of United Press International, for which he won the 1972 Pulitzer for Feature Photography.
Lives of the African American community in Chicago captured like no other by renowned John H. White for The Chicago Sun-Times in 1982. White won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography.
The citation read, “For the raw and revealing photographic story of a boy who strives to find his footing after abuse by those he trusted.”
In 2016, Jessica Rinaldi won the Pulitzer Prize(Feature Photography) for bringing this explorative portrayal of Strider Wolf a young white boy’s journey through poverty, deprivation, and abuse. At 2, his biological mother’s boyfriend in a fit of rage almost beat him to death. He survived the deadly abuse. He was given into the care his grandparents. But they did not have enough resources to provide for Wolf and his brother Gallagher. They also lost their home, in their bid to protect and give a nurturing life to the brothers. In the midst of the struggle for material security, Strider desired for something quite unlike we’d imagine. He desired to be loved.
‘For his picture of the return of an American prisoner of war from captivity in North Vietnam’
Called the ‘Burst of Joy’, this picture taken by SlavaVeder of Associated Press transmits the joy in the picture to its audience even after four decades.
The picture shows Robert L. Stirm, a pilot with the U.S. Air Force who was held as a prisoner of war in 1967 after the plane he was flying was shot down over the Hanoi skies. He returned home in March 1973. Stirm’s daughter Lorrie is seen running to him excitedly, ecstatic at his unexpected return.
“Memorable array of pictures deftly capturing multiple facets of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.“-Pulitzer Citation.
We will let the picture talk. Damon Winter won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for New York Times.
This picture called ‘Water’ has an unnerving but a gritty back story that you must know. Frank Noel, who won the Pulitzer in 1943 for this picture, was not just a camouflaged observer for this picture, but he was inextricably involved.
While covering the World War II, Noel was required to be in Calcutta. But he was held back in Singapore after Japanese backlash in 1942. Noel had to act immediately. He took to the waters. 270 miles into the sea, Noel’s ship was hit by a raging torpedo. Noel was one of the 27 survivors of the 77 who had boarded with him. During this ordeal, the survivors would beg for something as basic as drinkable water in the middle of the salty sea waters. In this picture, an Indian survivor is seen begging for water. The lifeboats reached the shores of Sumatra five days after the ship capsized.
all images: source