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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 ...

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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 ...

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Jennifer Lynn Headley

artist, educator, and art historian specializing in African American photographic history, was born in North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her father, Thomas, was a police officer, and her mother, Ruth, was a hairdresser. Willis grew up with four sisters in a tight-knit and loving family. Her father, the family photographer, and his cousin (who name is not known) who owned a photographic studio, constantly took pictures of daily family life, including her mother's visual transformation of the neighborhood women as a hairdresser. Willis was mesmerized by images in the media and noted how blacks were portrayed as criminals or outsiders to the normal, suburban white family. Willis also noted that African Americans were omitted completely from history books except for references to slavery in the antebellum South. In Langston Hughes and Roy DeCarava's lyrical photo essay The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955 Willis discovered tender images of black ...