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Amalia K. Amaki

photographer and educator, was born in Augusta, Georgia, to Florida and Robert Battey, both laborers. He was living in New York City by his late teens and had become one of the most famous African American photographers in the country by 1900, although nothing is known about his educational background. In 1900 Battey married Anna H. Stokes, who gave birth to two daughters, Edyphe F. (born 1901) and Antoinette (born 1908). Affiliated with studios in Cleveland and New York, his primary base, he enjoyed a lucrative career as a studio and commercial photographer with a respected reputation among Americans and Europeans. He was superintendent of the Bradley Studio in New York with such clientele as Sir Thomas Lipton and Prince Henry of Prussia, and was a partner in Battey and Warren Studio in the city.

Battey made classic photogravure portraits of the Tuskegee Normal and ...

Article

C. Doreski

Born into urban poverty in Baltimore, Maryland, on 22 December 1935, Samuel James Cornish was the youngest of the two sons of Herman and Sarah Cornish. From his older brother Herman he learned early the lessons of the street, which he later would incorporate into a street-tough observancy in his poetry.

Cornish served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps (1958–1960), then returned to Baltimore, where he published two poetry collections—In This Corner: Sam Cornish and Verses (1961) and People Beneath the Window (1964). While working at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, he became part of Baltimore's political and literary underground, self-publishing a sixteen-page pamphlet entitled Generations and Other Poems (1964). A subsequent edition of Generations (1966) appeared when Cornish was editing Chicory a literary magazine by children and young adults in the Community Action Target Area ...

Article

Britta Behrendt

was born in Curaçao in 1873. He was born into a white family that was Roman Catholic and part of the local elite, which was dominated by Creole Protestants of Dutch descent. The Protestant elite were the descendants of the former plantation owners, slaveholders, and entrepreneurs, whose influence and power began to rapidly fade in the 1930s—a change in Curaçao society that formed a central aspect of De Pool’s writing.

Unable to fully develop his ambitions on the small island of Curaçao, De Pool traveled and lived in various countries of Latin America, the Caribbean, and North America. Cola Debrot (1985 one of his contemporaries spoke of him as one of the most colorful figures of Curaçao around the turn of the century De Pool was known as an expert on Simón Bolívar and the Spanish American Wars of Independence at the beginning of the nineteenth century ...

Article

Joshunda Sanders

photographer, artist, and educator, was born in Harlem, New York City, the only child of Andrew DeCarava and Elfreda Ferguson. DeCarava never knew his father; his mother worked as a clerical worker for the Work Projects Administration.

Elfreda DeCarava arrived in New York from Jamaica as the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the North was transforming Harlem into a predominantly African American community. She tried to foster her son's creativity as a single mother when he was a boy by getting him a violin and an expensive velvet short suit, in which he said he used to run through Harlem to get to practice. While DeCarava never became a violinist, he became actively interested in and a part of a wide range of artistic endeavors from sketching to movies.

As an eight year old boy he used chalk or pieces of Plaster ...

Article

Makeda Best

photographer. Born in Harlem, New York, in 1919, Roy DeCarava knew by the age of nine that he wanted to be an artist. His creative talent led him to the arts-oriented Textile High School. Initially enrolled at the Harlem annex, DeCarava transferred to the better-equipped main campus located in downtown Manhattan. DeCarava went on to attend college at the Cooper Union School of Art. Though inspired by the opportunities the Cooper Union offered, DeCarava left in 1940 and began attending the Works Progress Administration–sponsored Harlem Community Art Center. DeCarava thrived in Harlem's lively visual arts community, where organizations such as the Harlem Artists Guild, founded by the painter Aaron Douglas in 1935 supported classes and forums He met other African American artists and found himself at the center of discussions about African American creative expression In addition to his studies at the Harlem Art Center DeCarava worked ...

Article

Robert L. Gale

Leon Gardiner was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the son of Jacob Gardiner and Martha (maiden name unknown). In 1902 he and his family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From childhood he was interested in reading, cross-country running, hiking, camping, and bicycling. Later he developed an interest in music, choir singing, and photography. Blatant racial discrimination kept him from attending the photography school of his choice in Philadelphia, to his great disappointment. In the very early 1900s he began to collect material of various kinds concerning the achievements of blacks, black institutions, and Lynchings of blacks.

From 1908 to 1923 or so Gardiner attended meetings held by Philadelphia s Afro American Historical Society later the American Negro Historical Society expressed his ideas and described his findings in what he called race literature and was encouraged by fellow members in various ways He kept adding to his collection ...

Article

Cynthia Haveson Veloric

artist and educator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Ruby Arlene Powell, a homemaker, and Barkley H. Hendricks, a carpenter who worked at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Barkley L. Hendricks “didn't like school” (unpublished interview, 2005), preferring to sketch and draw in his spare time, but once he entered high school, his teachers encouraged his art studies. Another outlet for his talent was the high school yearbook, for which he was both editor and illustrator. Outside school he created chalk and pastel markings on city walls, which he later called “pre-aerosol graffiti” (unpublished interview, 2005).

After graduating from Simon Gratz High School in 1963, Hendricks enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the oldest art school in the country. At the time, there were few black students or faculty. He can easily recall fellow students Lou Sloan and Raymond Saunders ...

Article

Donna M. Wells

documentary photographer and educator, was born in Washington, D.C., to Nestor Hernandez Sr., an interior decorator and photographer, and Marion Johnson. Hernandez's mother died when he was eight years old. Hernandez attended St. John the Baptist Elementary School and Roosevelt High School in D.C. While he was a teenager, he learned photography through a journalism program at the Lemuel A. Penn Career Development Center in Northeast Washington, D.C. He attended what was later Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he took additional courses in photography.

In 1980 Hernandez returned to Washington, D.C., and took a position as photographer-in-residence at the Capital Children's Museum. Most of his professional career was spent with the Children's Museum. He worked there as the staff photographer until 1991 when he became its director of Youth Photography Programs While with the museum he was also a freelance photojournalist for several community ...

Article

Jennifer Lynn Headley

cultural critic, historian, performance and installation artist, photographer, writer, and activist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Her mother, Lena, emigrated from Jamaica to Boston in the 1920s. She earned a BA from Wellesley College in Spanish and Economics and an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Iowa, studying-in its renowned Writers' Workshop. From Iowa, she moved to New York City and began writing for the Village Voice and Rolling Stone as a rock critic. She changed her career course with her first performance pieces in the 1980s and her critical writings about art and its effect on students and peers.

O'Grady's first performed as Mlle. Bourgeoise Noire, loosely translated into Ms. Black Middle Class; her alter ego was a rowdy uninvited guest to numerous high-profile art exhibitions. Mlle. Bourgeoise Noire Goes to JAM (1980), Mlle Bourgeoise Noire Goes to ...

Article

Prentice Herman Polk became interested in photography at a young age. He began studying through a correspondence course which he paid for with ten dollars he was mistakenly given as change for a candy bar at a local store.

Polk attended Tuskegee Institute from 1916 to 1920 and was ...

Article

Ann M. Shumard

abolitionist, photographer, and Liberian statesman, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Christian Washington, a former slave from Virginia who operated an oyster saloon, and a woman who is identified only as a native of South Asia. She apparently died soon after his birth, for his father remarried in October 1821. Washington was raised in Trenton and until early adolescence attended school with white students. When access to such schooling ended in the face of growing racism, he was left to continue his education on his own. He worked for his father for several years, studied intermittently, and became an avid reader of Benjamin Lundy's Genius of Universal Emancipation and William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator These papers aroused Washington s hatred of slavery and racial prejudice and inspired him to become an activist Eager to contribute to the uplift of his ...