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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

Joshunda Sanders

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 ...

Article

Catherine M. Grant and Margaret Rose Vendryes

American printmaker, film maker, installation and conceptual artist and writer.

Green, of African descent, has worked primarily with film-based media, and has published criticism and designed installations that reveal her commitment to ongoing feminist and black empowerment movements. She earned her BA from Wesleyan University in 1981 and also spent some time at the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1980, returning in the late 1980s to study in the Whitney Independent Study Program, graduating in 1990. At the age of 24 she began exhibiting her comparative compositions containing found objects, images, and texts that question recorded history.

Green’s work deals with issues of anthropology and travel. By undertaking projects via the methodology of the 19th-century explorer, she exposed the arbitrary and prejudiced nature of classification, as in Bequest (1991; see 1993 exh cat an installation she made at the ...

Article

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 ...

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

George Lewis

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 ...

Article

Lawana Holland-Moore

photographer, was born Jeanne Marie Moutoussamy, in Chicago, Illinois. The name “Moutoussamy” is an English corruption of “Moutouswami,” the surname of her East Indian paternal grandfather, who immigrated to the United States from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe in the 1800s. Jeanne Moutoussamy is one of three children of John Moutoussamy Sr., an architect, and Elizabeth Hunt, an interior designer. Surrounded by creativity, she thrived artistically as a child and took classes at the Art Institute of Chicago until she graduated from high school. Influenced by the work of photographer Roy DeCarava, Moutoussamy studied photography at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York City. She received her BFA in 1975 and embarked upon a career as a photojournalist.

Moutoussamy prefers to work in black and white photography, and she has produced three books of photographic essays. The first, Daufuskie Island A Photographic Essay ...

Article

Reinhold Misselbeck and Kimberly Juanita Brown

African American photographer, writer, film maker, and composer. Parks was the youngest of 15 children and, after the early death of his mother, he took on responsibilities for himself and his family as a teenager. Parks worked in a number of professions before becoming a self-taught freelance photographer in 1937. After getting his start in fashion photography, he worked as one of the Farm Security Administration’s photographic team (1942–3) and held a similar post with the Office of War Information (1943–5). During this time he produced now iconic pictures such as American Gothic (1942), which features a black cleaner in front of the American flag staring into the camera with mop and broom upturned, as if in salute. Parks was soon hired as a photographer for Life magazine, where he worked from 1948 to 1961 During this period ...

Article

Elizabeth Schul

Gordon Parks's first two publications-Flash Photography (1947) and Camera Portraits: The Techniques and Principles of Documentary Portraiture (1948)-while written primarily for the professional photographer, reveal an aesthetic and a social commitment that structures the astonishing diversity of his subsequent work. Embodying his conviction that the photographer must combine technical intelligence, especially in the use of light, with a sensitive response to people, both works are photographic portfolios representing a cross-section of American lives—rural and urban, wealthy and leisured, poor and laboring.

Frequently identified as a Renaissance man, given the range of his accomplishments and the variety of media he has used, Parks was also the first African American to work for Life, Vogue the Office of War Information and the Farm Security Administration and one of the first African Americans to write direct produce and score a film While the commercial success of his ...

Article

Ann Wilde

photographer, poet, writer, composer, and filmmaker. Born the fifteenth and final child of a farming family in Fort Scott, Kansas, Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks was born on 30 November 1912 Parks attended a segregated school where he was often stoned beaten and called derogatory names Three of his close friends had been killed because of racial violence and he was distinctly aware of the constant threat that faced him simply because he was African American and lived in the United States Parks s mother died when he was sixteen after which complying with his mother s wishes Parks moved to Minneapolis to live with his sister and brother in law Unwelcome in his brother in law s home Parks spent the winter homeless but managed to finish high school by working odd jobs He believed above all that the difficulty of his experiences ...

Article

Marian Aguiar

Gordon Parks was born in Fort Scott, Kansas, the son of a dirt farmer and the youngest of fifteen children. He left home when he was fifteen, shortly after his mother's death. After an unhappy attempt to move in with a married sister in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Parks ended up spending a frigid winter homeless, an experience that sensitized him to the plight of the poor and that he would draw on in later photography and films. At the time, his hunger and loneliness nearly led him to a life of crime; however, he managed to struggle through high school for a while, working odd jobs herding cattle, carrying bricks, and even touring with a semiprofessional basketball team.

Working as a waiter on the Northern Pacific Railroad, Parks saw magazine photos produced by the Farm Security Administration, a federally funded project that chronicled the Great Depression in rural and ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

photographer, filmmaker, author, and composer, was born Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks in the small prairie town of Fort Scott, Kansas, to Andrew Jackson Parks, a dirt farmer, and Sarah Ross, a maid. Gordon was the youngest of fifteen children, the first five of which, he later discovered, were really half siblings, born to his father and a woman other than his mother. Parks's poor Kansas childhood, and his memories of its unbridled racism, feature prominently in his later work, especially his books “thick with those memories.” The first phase of Parks's life ended with the death of his mother in 1928. “Before the flowers on my mother s grave had wilted Parks remembered my father had me on a train to my sister in Minnesota I ran into some hell there Russell 145 Within a month of his arrival in Minneapolis ...

Article

Jessica Falconi

Mozambican photographer and photo-reporter, was born in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) on 15 February 1924. He is considered, together with Kok Nam, the pioneer of Mozambican photography.

Having grown up on the periphery of Maputo, the colony's capital, Rangel began working in private photographic studios in the early 1940s, notably that of the professional photographer Otílio de Vasconcelos (where he worked from 1941 to 1945), as well as in other studios like Foto Sousa and Focus.

In the 1950s he started to work for newspapers and other periodicals. His first collaboration was with the Lourenço Marques Guardian, a bilingual periodical influenced by the foreign business interests present in the city. Later, in 1952, he began working with Notícias, the main daily newspaper in Mozambique, founded in 1926. He was also hired as a reporter for Notícias da tarde where he worked until ...

Article

Kim Jenice Dillon

Known for his books for children, John Shearer was born and raised in New York City and attended Rochester Institute of Technology and School of Visual Arts. In 1970, he became staff photographer for Look and Life, and contributed photographs to other national magazines, including Popular Photography and Infinity.

Shearer entered the field of children's and young adult literature with I Wish I Had an Afro (1970), a nonfiction essay exploring the challenges of rearing an African American boy in poverty. Shearer's black-and-white photographs contribute to the intense depiction of an urban family's struggle against ignorance, gangs, and drugs. Shearer's talent for illustrating narratives of childhood experience is seen also in Little Man in the Family (1972 a double photographic essay exploring the lives of two boys from differing racial and class backgrounds Louis Berrios is Puerto Rican and lives in a New ...

Article

Moneta Sleet, Jr. was born in Owensboro, Kentucky. Wanting to be a photographer since early childhood, he studied photography and business at Kentucky State College. In 1955 he became a staff photographer for Ebony magazine. On assignment, he met Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1956 and the two ...

Article

Cherise Smith

photojournalist, was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, the elder of two children of Moneta Sleet Sr. and Ozetta Allensworth, both teachers. Owensboro was a segregated town, but it fostered a close-knit black community that offered a safe environment in which to raise Moneta and his sister, Emmy Lou. Moneta's parents were college educated, and they instilled in their son a high regard for education and a deep respect for their racial heritage. By the time Moneta was ten years old, he had become the family photographer, shooting with a Brownie box camera. At Western High School, he joined the camera club, learning from his chemistry teacher how to develop pictures. He graduated in 1942.

Sleet enrolled at Kentucky State College in 1942 and majored in business while working as assistant to Dean John T. Williams who was himself an accomplished photographer and from whom Sleet learned ...

Article

Brenna Sanchez

photographer and Pulitzer Prize–winning photojournalist, was born in Lexington, North Carolina, one of six children of an African Methodist Episcopal Zion minister, whose name is now unknown, and Ruby Mae Leverett White. White proved a slow student and was once told by a teacher that he would grow up to be nothing more than a garbageman. His father reportedly answered that remark by telling his son that what he did mattered less than wanting to be the best at whatever goal he had set for himself. White purchased his first camera at age thirteen for fifty cents and ten bubblegum wrappers. When he began studying commercial art at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina, he decided to become a professional photographer.

A turn in the U S Marine Corps gave White his first professional photography experience When he returned to civilian life he had a difficult time ...

Article

Amalia K. Amaki

photographer, writer, and curator, was born in Los Angeles, California, the third of four daughters born to Evelyn Williams, a homemaker, and Wendell Williams, an aerospace industry employee. Carla showed no signs of interest in becoming an artist during her childhood, even though she already had an affinity and talent for taking photographs. As a high school senior she indicated that she could not imagine going off to college “to major in something utterly useless like art” (Williams, e-mail interview, May 2005).

Williams first became seriously interested in art during her sophomore year at Princeton University after she enrolled in a photography course The university darkrooms were located in the basement of the visual arts building it was there also that the mandatory interviews conducted prior to registration for an art class were held She later described that first journey to the basement as ...

Article

was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Clarence J. Williams, Jr. and Ruth Watson Williams, a former Women’s Army Corps member and claims administrator at the Philadelphia Veterans Administration. Williams attended a small Quaker school called the Friends Select School in Philadelphia through the twelfth grade. He attended several universities, including the University of Southern California (USC) and Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, and then took several years off from school. In 1992 he graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia with a Bachelor’s Degree is Mass Communications. While attending Temple Williams worked for the school’s newspaper, The Temple News, for two years and also maintained an internship and did freelance work for The Philadelphia Tribune, the oldest continually published African American newspaper in the United States.

Upon graduating Williams secured an internship with the York Daily Record located in York Pennsylvania His first regular newspaper job was ...

Article

Jared T. Story

photojournalist and commercial photographer, was born Ernest Columbus Withers to working-class parents, Earl and Pearl Withers, in strictly segregated Memphis, Tennessee. When Withers was nine his mother died, and his father, a truck driver and driver for the postal service, married Minnie Clay. Withers credits Minnie, who was a seamstress, with helping him to develop the keen sense of detail that is evident in his photographs. Withers's first foray into photography occurred when, as a freshman at Manassas High School, he borrowed his sister's camera to photograph a visit to his school by Marva Trotter Louis, wife of the boxer Joe Louis. Withers began photographing other school and community events. He began to think seriously about photography as a profession after marrying his high school sweetheart, Dorothy Curry, in February 1942 and starting their family of eight children in 1943.

In 1943 ...