photographer, was born Joyce Allen at Harlem Hospital in New York, the oldest of four children, all of whose names were changed after her father converted to Islam in the late 1950s. In 1972 Ali graduated from Jamaica High School in Queens. Although a guidance counselor told Ali that as a young African American woman she would never attend college, she enrolled in LaGuardia Community College that fall. She concentrated on liberal arts until she took her first black and white photography course. Impressed by her negatives, Ali decided to pursue a degree in photography. At the time colleges and universities had only recently begun offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in photography. Ali applied to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City in 1975 Although she possessed an exceptional portfolio and passed a required entrance exam three times she was refused entry to the program ...
crystal am nelson
Camara Dia Holloway
photographer, was born in New York City to Virginia Allen, a dressmaker who migrated from the British Virgin Islands in 1900, and an unidentified father. James attended Dewitt Clinton High School, where he discovered photography through the school's camera club, the Amateur Cinema League. The school was fertile ground for several members of the upcoming Harlem Renaissance, including the poet Countee Cullen, whose first published piece appeared in the school magazine, the Magpie. The artist Charles Alston also developed his talents as the art editor for the Magpie and leader of the art club. In 1923 Allen began a four year apprenticeship at Stone Van Dresser and Company a white owned illustration firm where he received additional instruction in photography Louis Collins Stone the firm s owner and a portrait painter and his wife seem to have taken a personal interest in Allen and ...
crystal am nelson
photographer, was born Winifred Hall in Jamaica. She moved at age eighteen to New York City, where she enrolled in the New York Institute of Photography (NYIP), which was founded in 1910. Other notable black graduates of NYIP include Ernest Cole, South Africa's first known black photojournalist, and Matthew Lewis Jr., who won the Pulitzer Prize for his portfolio of silver gelatin and color photography, a first in Pulitzer history, in 1975.
While completing her photography studies, Allen apprenticed with Harlem-based photographer William Woodard in his studio Woodard Studio After Allen graduated sometime between the late 1920s and the early 1930s the precise date is unknown Woodard relocated to Chicago allowing Allen to take over his studio and rename it Winifred Hall Allen Photography Studio While operating her studio Allen also taught at the Mwalimu School of African culture and language which was founded in ...
crystal am nelson
photographer, writer, and historian, was born Anthony Barboza in New Bedford, Massachusetts, to Lillian Barboza, a homemaker, and Anthony Barboza Sr., a Fuller Brush salesman. Anthony Jr. was one of eight sons, one of whom was also an award-winning photographer and two of whom were well-known journalists. Barboza began his career in 1964, when he studied under Roy DeCarava in New York City at the Kamoinge Workshop, cofounded in 1963 as a response to the negative and biased representation of African Americans in mainstream media, with DeCarava serving as Kamoinge's first director. The group, which continued into the twenty-first century as Kamoinge, Inc., used photography to document and celebrate African American experiences.
Between 1965 and 1968 Barboza served as a photojournalist in the United States Navy Upon opening his commercial photo studio in New York City a year after being discharged he began shooting ...
Caryn E. Neumann
a portrait photographer, was born David Edward Smikle in Jamaica, Queens, New York, to Mary Smikle and Kenneth Smikle. He changed his name to Dawoud Bey in the early 1970s. Bey received his first camera, an Argus C3 rangefinder, in 1968 and began to learn how to take pictures. In 1973 he apprenticed to Levey J. Smith at MOT Photography Studio in Hollis, New York, and began spending time at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Bey then attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City for a year but left in 1978 to accept an artist's position with the Cultural Council Foundation CETA Artists Project in New York. He graduated with a B.A. from Empire State College, State University of New York, in 1990. He also earned an M.F.A. from the Yale University School of Art in 1993.
Bey emerged as a documentarian of ...
Lisa Kay Davis
photographer and writer, was born in Jackson, Mississippi, the eldest son of eight children of Willie Everrett Bingham, a minister and baggage handler, and Emmaline Bingham, a homemaker whose maiden name is not now known. At the age of four, Bingham and his family moved from Mississippi to Los Angeles. Young Bingham was inspired by his photographer neighbors and developed a strong interest in photography. While attending Compton Junior College in the late 1950s, Bingham, a music major, enrolled in a photography course, for which he received a failing grade. Although he eventually left college, he continued to pursue photography and began an apprenticeship at the Los Angeles Sentinel, one of the largest black‐owned newspapers in the United States. After one month at the Sentinel, he was hired as a staff photographer.
In 1962 the Sentinel sent Bingham to cover a press conference in Los ...
Caryn E. Neumann
a still photographer and documentary filmmaker, was born in Houston, Texas, the second child and only daughter of the schoolteacher Mollie Carroll Parrott and the dentist Frederick Douglas Parrott Sr. At least one grandparent had been born a slave. Both parents were the first in their respective families to obtain advanced college degrees, but racism kept the family poor. The Parrotts lived in the Third Ward, one of Houston's African American neighborhoods, and Blue attended a segregated grade school. As she wrote in her memoir, The Dawn at My Back, the challenges of growing up poor and black in a racist, classist society put a shadow over her life.
Blue did not intend to pursue a career in the visual arts. She enrolled as an English literature student, specializing in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English Renaissance period, at Boston University in 1960 with the goal of becoming ...
Nancy T. Robinson
historian, collector, archivist, photographer, and entrepreneur, was born Wallace Michael Branch in Brooklyn, New York, one of two sons of Byrd Branch, an entrepreneur who operated a cleaning and tailoring business in New York City and held down a thirty-five-year job at the weekly newspaper Irish Echo to support his family, and Vera Barbour Branch. In Brooklyn, Branch and his family lived a solid middle-class lifestyle, making their home in a four-floor brownstone home that they owned.
Branch was born with sickle cell anemia a hereditary incurable chronic disorder with which patients suffer severe pain and tissue and organ damage as a result of oxygen and nutrient deficiencies At the time of Branch s birth information about and treatment of the disease were limited According to his family doctors who treated Branch as a child never gave him much hope for survival At fourteen Branch became so ill that he ...
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 ...
Jason Philip Miller
photographer, was born in Columbus, Ohio. Details about Cowans's upbringing and early education are difficult to come by. He attended local schools and around 1954 matriculated to Ohio University, where he undertook a study of photography. There he fell under the influence and tutelage of the great Clarence White Jr., one of the founders (along with Alfred Stieglitz and others) of the Photo-Secession movement, which helped to solidify photography as a legitimate art form. He earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in Photography in 1958 and subsequently enlisted in the U.S. Navy, which he served as a photographer until his discharge in 1960.
Upon leaving military service, Cowans removed to New York, intent on pursuing a career in photography. There he landed a job at Life magazine, at the time perhaps the most famous and widely distributed photo magazine in the United States. With Life ...
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 ...
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 ...
writer, poet, photographer, and educator, was born in Washington, D.C., in what he has been quoted as saying was a “so-called single parent household” (quoted in Davis). He attended Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. He recalled in an interview that his early life in the nation's capital shaped his poetry. “I have stayed connected to the music, the people, the folk of DC,” he told the Washington Post. “My movements have been for universities—these things that one feels are a job. My roots always are and still are in DC” (Gebhardt, p. PG24). Ellis earned a BA at Harvard University.
With Sharan Strange, a fellow Harvard graduate and poet, Ellis started the Dark Room Reading Series in 1989 in Cambridge Massachusetts at a house they rented The series which ran until the late 1990s led a number of African American writers and poets to enroll in Masters in ...
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 ...
John Hanson Mitchell
photographer and naturalist, was born in Natural Bridge, Virginia. His parents' names and occupations are unknown. In 1881, after attending primary schools in Lexington, Virginia, Gilbert was taken by his family to Lynchburg, Virginia, to complete his education. In 1886 he followed his brother William north to Boston, where he found employment as a porter on the Portland Boston steamship line. He would work various odd jobs until 1896, when psychologist James Chadbourne hired him to help with laboratory rats. Gilbert, as he was generally known in the Boston white community, also took a temporary job setting up a bird museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with the renowned nineteenth-century ornithologist William Brewster. Brewster subsequently hired Gilbert as a full-time manservant, field assistant, factotum, and, as some of the early private journal records state, “friend,” to the well-respected Brewster.
Under Brewster s tutelage Gilbert learned how to develop ...
Michelle K. Massie
photojournalist, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the youngest of three sons of William A. and Ella Mae (Taliaferro) Harris. His parents operated the Masio Hotel on Wylie Avenue in Pittsburgh's famed Hill District neighborhood. During the early twentieth century, the Hill District was the mecca of African American life in Pittsburgh. The neighborhood attracted poor and working-class blacks as well as the elites of the sports and entertainment worlds, for it was an area where blacks freely socialized, shopped, worshipped, owned businesses, and lived without having to confront many of the harsh realities of the segregated city. It was this exposure to the richness of black life that influenced Harris's forty-year career as a photojournalist and portrait photographer.
Harris got his nickname at the age of two from a female relative who called him Teenie Little Lover It was later shortened to Teenie Harris came of age during ...
Randall K. Van Schepen
photographer, was born in the Bronx, New York, to Thomas Allen Harris, a counselor to troubled youth, and Rudean, a chemistry professor. He grew up with his stepfather, Pule Leinaeng who was a translator and broadcaster for the United Nations antiapartheid radio broadcasts Raised in a middle class home he lived briefly with his mother and brother the filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris in Dar es Salaam Tanzania as many African Americans were traveling to Africa in the post civil rights era The split of Harris s parents seemed to have been a precipitating event in Harris s awareness of his gay identity When the brothers were going to church with their grandparents and during their parents breakup they began a ritual of reconstructing their sense of self by dressing up in drag on the weekends Harris eventually transformed this childhood play with the body and self ...
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 ...
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 ...
athlete, photographer, and poet, was born Gilbert Heron in Kingstown, Jamaica. Though he was a talented photographer, particularly of sporting events, and a notable poet, publishing a collection entitled I Shall Wish Just for You as late as 1992, Heron's fame derives from neither. He remains best known as a pioneering nonwhite sportsman in the United Kingdom in the 1950s and as father to the eclectic, prolific, and hugely influential jazz musician and wordsmith Gil Scott-Heron.
Heron came to attention as an association football or soccer player for the Detroit Corinthians although he had previously turned out for the Canadian Air Force Detroit Wolverines and Chicago Sting Standing just below five feet ten inches and weighing just under 178 pounds Heron had the speed and agility that gave him the perfect characteristics for football s target man and goal scorer the center forward In the ...