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Arts and Culture News

Al Clayton: Chronicler of America's Poor and Hungry

In the summer of 1967, photographer Al Clayton traveled through the Mississippi Delta, eastern Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama, and documented the lives of America's poor and hungry.

Trained as a medical photographer and photojournalist, Clayton was asked by the Southern Regional Council, a civil rights group, to take part in their effort to provide Congress with evidence of malnutrition among the poor in America's South.

In July 1967, his photographs were presented at a hearing on Capitol Hill, where they inspired senators to call for increased funding for anti-poverty programs such as food stamps.

Two years later, the photos were collected in a book called Still Hungry in America, with text by the eminent psychiatrist Robert Coles.

Today, Clayton is retired and lives in Jasper, Ga. He talks with Michele Norris about chronicling America's forgotten citizens. Excerpts from the interview -- and examples of the photos he discusses -- are below.

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