"The image is striking: A stone-faced African-American woman in a spotless maid’s uniform cradles a white toddler while a stylishly dressed white woman sits nearby. Gordon Parks took the picture at the Atlanta airport in the spring of 1956. Those few tidbits are the only things certain about this photo. Anything else is conjecture. We don’t know the women’s names, where they’re from, their individual stories or the nature of their relationship beyond employer and employee. We don’t even know if they are still alive. Mr. Parks’s notes were minimal: He didn’t give an exact date.


We do know it is an unusual, intimate photo of race relations and economic inequality, subjects as freighted today as they were 60 years ago when the civil rights movement was gaining momentum. Though it is a quiet, in-between moment, we bring much to it, and can read much into it. Yet we know so little about it. We at Lens keep returning to this intriguing photo, which raises questions about race, class and relationships between women in the Jim Crow South. And every time we look at this rare color image, we want to know much more about these women.

So we are turning to you, dear readers, to help unravel this mystery. We particularly ask those of you who like history and research, as well as those who are just plain nosy, to help us crowd-source the stories of the people in this photo. Let’s use the comments section of this post to share what we find out and help each other in our joint search. You can also e-mail us at lensnytimes@gmail.com."