#BlackHistoryMonth 2014 CultureSOUL - The Carl Van Vechten Photography series
Van Vechten was a writer, photographer and patron of the arts in New York. He was said to be moved by the artists of the Harlem Renaissance movement and in 1939 he began a photography series that would last for nearly 25 years. Van Vechten, who became friendly with many of the artists, began photographing them in a bold color series. Some 50 years later, this series still stands as one of the finest photo essays on mid-century black artists available. A few highlights from the series here.
1. Eartha Kitt / 2. Harry Belafonte / 3. Ruby Dee / 4. Ossie Davis
5. Langston Hughes / 6. Zora Neal Hurston / 7. Pearl Bailey
8. James Earl Jones / 9. W.E.B. Dubois / 10. Mahalia Jackson
They were everyday people who became warriors for justice. They did it to give themselves and their families a better life and they did it for us. Those future generations seemingly so far off in the distance. For us they endured the lynchings, the beatings, the rapes, the murders, the attacks, the daily humiliations. For us.
Today, it is on their shoulders we stand. #NeverForget
1. The American South
2. KKK flyer (Citizens Council) - New Orleans chapter
3. New York City - Miles Davis, 32, was arrested after fighting with a patrolman who had ordered him to move from a crowded sidewalk. Davis was hit on the head with a blackjack for which an ambulance had to be called. (1959)
4. 1951 - Southeast Maids with their employers children. Photo by John Vachon, LOOK magazine series “The South”
5. Segregated bus in Texas c. 1950s
6. March on Washington, 1963
7. Civil rights protest, New York, 1964
8. Memphis, TN Sanitation Strike, 1968
9. A young activist teaching a woman to read and write so that she could vote, Virginia 1960. Photo by Eve Arnold
“I was a slave before and during the Civil War. I am 87 years old. I was born Sept. 16, 1850… I was eight years old and I was put on the block and sold in Nelson Hall’s yard by the son of Bob Hall. I saw my brother and sister sold on this same plantation. They sold me away from my father and mother and I was carried to the state of Kentucky. I was not allowed to tell my mother and father goodbye. I was bought and sold three times in one day.” – WPA Slave Narratives
Robert Glenn, September 1936, Raleigh, North Carolina
First Lady Michelle Obama at the Brown vs. Board of Education Museum, Topeka, Kansas, July 2014
President Barack Obama on the Rosa Parks bus at the Henry Ford, Dearborn, Michigan, April 2012
We are living during historic times. The Obamas are changing and reclaiming black history right before our very eyes. The passage of time will only serve to elevate their legacies so, as we move through this momentous era with America’s First Black Family, be present for the journey. Future generations will ask us about Obama as we asked our elders about MLK, Malcolm and JFK. They will ask us what it felt like to live in the Age of Obama. Be a witness to history.