GREAT Photo Slideshow: A Day in the Life of Black America

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.

Black-Bathers
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.

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Barack Obama, Black, Biracial, Whatever

Question: is Barack Obama black or biracial? And does it matter?

There have been discussions about that all over the Internet, and no doubt in living rooms and business offices across the country.

For many black folks, it’s this simple: if he has a drop of black blood, he’s black. So people just need to acknowledge that and deal with it.

But it isn’t that simple. Being biracial IS a different cultural experience than being black. Adrienne Maree Brown makes the point in COLORLINES magazine’s RaceWire blog:

…I have to just share this temporary moment of swelling heart boom boom because Obama, Barack Hussein Obama, a half-breed, Hafrican, mulatto, black and white cookie, creamed coffee, is-he-is-or-is-he-ain’t, mixed, multi-, biracial, more-than-a-drop, cafe au lait like me is going to be the Democratic nominee for President.

No one will want to remember it that way, it’s too advanced to get into, its big enough that he’s a black man, the black candidate who has been running against the woman candidate in our oversimplified media vomitorium of electoral coverage.

But as a woman who grew up with that special experience of visiting the far reaches of the American experience as represented by the racial spectrum in my veins, as a biracial woman who takes note of all the multicultural straddlers out there leading and supporting movements, I want to take a moment that we rarely get.

Mariah Carey, goddess that she is, isn’t out there forging the path of righteousness for those who are undefining the boundary. Halle Barry wants nothing to do with the gray space. We haven’t had many public figures giving speeches about their mixed heritage, out there publicly applying the unique ability to go beyond temporary bridge-building to the true and evolutionary, fusionistic type of movement building which is a survival mechanism honed at the dinner table for multiracial babies.

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