I’ve become something of a junkie for vintage photos of African Americans. I’ve purchased over a dozen photo books that feature images of black folks from slavery times through the 1970s, and I can’t get enough. Well, I would… maybe if I had more money.
As a child of the 60s and 70s, I never ever saw images of black people in the history books. It’s like we didn’t exist. And when images of black folks were displayed, it was always in a negative or demeaning or depressing context.
I never got the full picture.
Perhaps that’s why, when I am able to find vintage pictures of black folks, I am touched and filled and uplifted. These photos show that black life wasn’t always about being downtrodden. You can see moments of joy, of pride, of strength.
And seeing how they lived makes me even more appreciative for what I have, and for what they’ve given me.
In that light, you MUST take a look at this GREAT slideshow of vintage photos of African Americans, which I’ll get to in a second.
But first, turn on some background music to add to your viewing experience. This vintage gospel song (circa World War II) by Bertha Houston, We are Americans, Praise the Lord, will do. Just click on this sound bar below, and then immediately click on the photo of the two women to start the slide show.
Click on this photo or here to start the slideshow.
This is something of a takeoff on the many A Day in the Life of… photo books, such as A Day in the Life of America by Rick Smolan and David Elliot Cohen. But make no mistake, these are great photos that paint a vivid and compelling picture of African American life from days gone by.
The photos are from the Discover Black Heritage section of the Flickr website. (Flickr is a media storage site, similar to Youtube.) The Discover Black Heritage section has a bunch of other slideshows featuring black vintage photos, which are very much worth your time.
Some of the many photo sets on the Discover Black Heritage section of Flickr.
So please, take the time to take it all in. Reflect on the lives and times of the people who are pictured. Don’t let our ancestors become invisible in our hearts and minds. Because if we don’t hold on to our history, nobody will.