Vintage Black Glamour

10

CultureSOUL *50s*: African Americans in Color c. 1950s

Photo credits:

  1. Southern California c. 1950s
  2. Southern California c. 1950s
  3. Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama, 1956. Gordon Parks
  4. Southern California, 1956
  5. Airline Terminal, Atlanta, Georgia, 1956. Gordon Parks
  6. Bathing Beauties contest c. 1950s
  7. Coney Island, NY, 1957
  8. Location unknown c. 1950s
  9. Wedding, Southern California, 1956
  10. Rare color image from the “A Great Day In Harlem” iconic Jazz photo shoot. This close up features Marian McPartland, Mary Lou Williams and Thelonious Monk.

For more images of African Americans in color, see this Gordon Parks photo essay on the Civil Rights era recently published in HuffPost.

#50sMonth

Billie Holiday and Hazel Scott enjoy each other’s company at party in 1957. In “Lady Didn’t Always Sing the Blues,” a 1973 article in Ebony magazine, her friend Ms. Scott said, “The thing I hope the kids don’t miss – the ones who are just discovered Lady – is that she took a lot of the tragedy of her life and made something beautiful out of it; something very beautiful.” The photo was taken by the legendary photographer Roy DeCarava (1919-2009).

Today, Misty Copeland was named Principal Ballerina at American Ballet Theatre, the first Black ballerina in the company’s 75 year history. The photo on the right is Ms. Copeland being congratulated by one of her idols, Raven Wilkinson. Ms. Wilkinson was the first Black woman to dance full-time with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1955 - but racism stunted much of her career in the United States. The photo on the right was taken by Gene Schiavone. The photo of Ms. Wilkinson in the 1950s was provided by her to Pointe Magazine

The great Trinidadian-born pianist Hazel Scott, seen here in 1955, was born on this day in 1920. One of my favorite things about her? Her hands were once insured by Lloyds of London. My other thing is this quote: “Any woman who has a great deal to offer the world is in trouble. And if she’s a black woman, she’s in deep trouble.” Photo: Howard Morehead.

Kicking off Aretha Franklin’s birthday with this gem from the VBG archives: a shot of Ms. Franklin rehearsing with the legendary dancer and choreographer Charles “Cholly” Atkins at a dance studio in 1961. Mr. Atkins (1913-2003) created the iconic dance moves of The Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips and The Supremes’s famous “Stop! In the Name of Love” hand movement (!!!) The Alabama-born Mr. Atkins began his career as a vaudeville performer and was one half of the legendary dance duo Coles and Atkins with Honi Coles. In 1988, he shared a Tony Awards for choreographing the Broadway show, “Black and Blue.” Photo: Frank Driggs Collection/Getty Images.