The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Don West

Photographer Don West was born November 15, 1937 in Boston, Massachusetts, to Elise and Claude West. West attended Brookline High School, graduating in 1955, before going on to study math at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. In the 1960s, West studied with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and was a professional bass guitarist. He taught transcendental meditation in Detroit, Michigan throughout the 1970s.

In the early 1980s, West became a staff photographer for the Bay State Banner in Boston, Massachusetts, documenting the movements, struggles, and successes of Boston’s African American community. During this period, West worked as a press photographer for United Press International. In 1983, West was the official photographer for Melvin King’s “Rainbow Coalition” mayoral campaign. Also in the 1980s, West regularly documented performers, including B. B. King, Whitney Houston, and Diana Ross, at Boston’s Concerts on the Common. In 1990, West served as official photographer for Nelson Mandela during the South African anti-apartheid leader’s visit to Boston on June 23, 1990. The Museum of African American History on Beacon Hill exhibited his work in the exhibit Portraits of Purpose, which was well-received and featured prominent social leaders of Boston’s African American community. West photographed Governor Deval Patrick’s inauguration in 2007; and in 2009, was a Resident Artist in the African American Master Artists-in-Residence Program at Northeastern University in Boston. In 2012, West founded Blackwire News Service, a wire service for people of color worldwide. The Urban League commissioned an updated version of Portraits of Purpose in 2012. Then, in 2014, West co-authored Portraits of Purpose: A Tribute to Leadership with Kenneth J. Cooper.

West is the founder and owner of Don West Photography. His editorial and documentary work has taken him all over the world, including to Spain, China, Paris, Jerusalem, and the Caribbean. Prominent subjects photographed by West have included Alice Walker, Angela Davis, J. Keith Motley, and President Barack Obama during his 2012 campaign trail in the Northeast. West is a member of numerous organizations, including: National Press Photographers, Boston Press Photographers and National Association of Black Journalists. He has received multiple awards for his contributions in photojournalism, particularly for the City of Boston.

Don West was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 19, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.078

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/22/2016

Last Name

West

Maker Category
Schools

Edward Devotion Elementary School

Brookline High School

Morgan State University

First Name

Don

Birth City, State, Country

Boston

HM ID

WES09

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Massachusetts

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Do It Now.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

11/15/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sushi

Short Description

Photographer Don West (1937- ) documented Boston’s African American community for over thirty years.

Employment

Fotografiks

Sickle Cell Anemia

Transcendental Meditation

Various Endeavors

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:4161,131:7022,209:7352,215:7682,221:7946,226:18301,425:26463,553:31330,589:32230,603:33130,614:39220,794:45396,849:62210,1118:62900,1129:90420,1582:93842,1635:101908,1794:114490,1932:129269,2140:129664,2146:138527,2262:139537,2274:142668,2313:156412,2448:169508,2631:169898,2637:172472,2696:173018,2704:180924,2806:184929,2944:211256,3298:213570,3378:217753,3420:243000,3737$0,0:11630,223:12730,229:13720,283:25675,483:38230,644:38995,654:49344,745:50174,757:56243,863:58401,976:65110,1042:65913,1055:68896,1093:83384,1300:93898,1436:98624,1523:129820,1966:133804,2042:144040,2165:153965,2470:177828,2831:196750,3028
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Don West's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Don West lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Don West describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Don West talks about his paternal family's move to Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Don West describes his father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Don West talks about his father's siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Don West talks about his mother's racial identity

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Don West reflects upon his family's experiences of racial passing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Don West describes his likeness to his father

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Don West remembers his relationship with his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Don West describes his family's house in Brookline, Massachusetts

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Don West describes his community in Brookline, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Don West talks about William Dawes' ride through Brookline, Massachusetts in 1775

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Don West remembers his early experiences of social exclusion

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Don West talks about the Wampanoag community in Mashpee, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Don West remembers his childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Don West remembers the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Don West remembers rebelling against his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Don West describes his experiences of segregation in Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Don West recalls his high school art instruction

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Don West talks about his paternal uncle's career as a lawyer

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Don West remembers the Boston Braves, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Don West remembers the Boston Braves, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Don West recalls his experiences at Morgan College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Don West remembers working at the post office in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Don West talks about his Boston accent

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Don West remembers reconnecting with a college classmate

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Don West recalls opening the Folklore Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Don West describes the guitar technique of Reverend Gary Davis

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Don West remembers the folk music scene of the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Don West talks about the blues musician Taj Mahal

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Don West describes the development of his artistic interests

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Don West remembers his early experiences of religion

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Don West reflects upon his early experiences of social isolation, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Don West reflects upon his early experiences of social isolation, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Don West remembers his introduction to transcendental meditation

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Don West remembers becoming a transcendental meditation teacher

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Don West talks about the need for transcendental meditation in the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Don West describes his experiences as a transcendental meditation teacher in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Don West talks about the changes in the transcendental meditation movement

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Don West remembers teaching transcendental meditation at San Quentin State Prison

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Don West talks about his work with sickle cell programs

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Don West recalls his start as a freelance photographer

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Don West talks about becoming a professional photographer

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Don West talks about developing his photography skills

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Don West describes the Portraits of Purpose exhibit

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Don West talks about his book, 'Portraits of Purpose: A Tribute to Leadership'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Don West recalls documenting Nelson Mandela's tour of Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Don West talks about his international travels

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Don West remembers photographing Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick's inauguration

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Don West talks about his early camera equipment

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Don West talks about amateur photography

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Don West describes his photographic process, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Don West talks about the skills of a professional photographer

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Don West remembers his transition to digital photography

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Don West talks about his plans for his career

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Don West talks about the photography of Sebastiao Salgado

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Don West describes his philosophy of photography

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Don West talks about the advancements in digital photography

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Don West talks the African American Master Artists in Residence Program at Northeastern University

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Don West talks about the history of African American photography

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Don West talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Don West reflects upon his legacy and how would he like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Don West narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

4$7

DATitle
Don West remembers his childhood activities
Don West remembers photographing Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick's inauguration
Transcript
Mashpee [Massachusetts] was a place that they used to vacation in the summertime. My father [Claude West] would have two or three weeks' vacation.$$Okay and thi- (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And it was a place where they could buy land and buy property, and so he bought property down there, and that was his getaway. He fixed up, you know, an old house that was there, and I used to help him do that. I learned a lot from my father though, in the sense of carpentry, bricklaying--I mean all kinds of--he could do it all, you know. He graduated from Hampton Uni- Hampton Institute when it was a vocational school [Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute; Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia] around the turn of the 20th century. So, he graduated as a brick mason. And what he was good at was building chimneys. So, when my uncle, the lawyer, they both--the two of them were the ones who were really interested in Mashpee. And they built a house for my uncle, my--William [William West], and my father built the chimney. So, I learned how to--I was--I could brick lay, I could do carpentry, I could do electrical work. I could do--because he could do all that stuff. So I learned a lot from him on that side of the--we worked together on--I mean he shared that with me. So, you know, to go to back to what I said before about how we were distant; well, he did connect, we did connect in that area. So he had a house down there, and we would go down there. And I think I was coming to that around the kind of isolation that I experienced. Even though I had the friends around, there was still--I was different. I still had--you know, I knew what color my skin was and what color their skin was, but I didn't pay it a lot of attention. But I knew it was different--that's about, probably the extent of that. So, that made me some degree--you know, because my whole environment is white and I'm brown, I had a natural outlaw feeling, so to speak, if you--? But then going to the Cape [Cape Cod, Massachusetts] and my being an only child, there was nothing, there was nobody for me to really relate to in those two or three weeks, other than I'd helping my father do whatever he was doing. And so that was--so I had a general isolation in growing up, which made me do for myself--you know, create projects on my own and create my own world often. One of the things I did, probably I was nine or ten, eleven years old, I was interested in radio, because TV was just coming along in those days. But radio--and I created a radio station in my room, and I hooked it up by wire to the kitchen, and I used to do radio programs for my mother [Elise Thurston West] while she was cooking dinner. I would do--and the radio show I would do would be kind of a disc jockey show. I would have music and then a little banter. So, I had a record player and I had the microphone. I had a whole little setup in my room.$$So, did you like a Heathkit thing, or what was it (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Well, it wasn't a--no, it wasn't a Heathkit. But it was just an amplifier, you know, that I bought. And the microphone, set that up to that and hooked the record player into the amplifier and ran the wires downstairs. So, that was sort of the beginning of my interest in media. I also used to draw a lot in my years of, let's say six to twelve years, thirteen years old. Because when I went into high school [Brookline High School, Brookline, Massachusetts], I thought I was going to be an illustrator. I wanted to a cartoonist or something like that, so I had a graphic sense, which I think then served me well as, when I finally became a photographer. I always had that sense of vision and applying it in some way.$One of the most famous photographs, or the one that, that I--when I was reading about you and people talked about the most, was the picture of Deval Patrick [HistoryMaker Deval L. Patrick] when--with the hands on him. You know, describe that (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Right. Well, that was the night before his inauguration to be the first African American governor in Massachusetts. And he went to a local church [Old South Meeting House, Boston, Massachusetts] for a very traditional ceremony, where many different pastors from around the community come together in a moment and place their hands on him to bless him and to give him spiritual powers and support going forward into the job that he's about to do. And there were many, hundreds of people in this big church that night. And this was up on a stage, and he was standing there. And all of these ministers up--eight or nine or ten of them were around him. And so all of the photographers--I mean there were seven, eight, nine, ten photographers there, and we were all jostling for position and so forth. And there are pictures from that moment where some photographer just got this broad shot. But I felt to get right in tight. And this picture of Deval is a tight shot, right up in his face, and you can see a hand on his shoulder and you can see a cross on the garment of one of the ministers right next to him, and another minister behind--so, it's a very intimate shot. And his eyes were closed, feeling the spirit. So, it was the hands on spirit piece that that picture was about. He then, in his inauguration the next day another unique picture that I don't know how many might have. But he did his inauguration al fresco, outside the front of the state house [Massachusetts State House] in Boston [Massachusetts], which nobody had ever done before. And they had this huge stage set up in front of the--and all the elected officials, everybody you can imagine, you know, in the political life was up on that stage. And I was on a press riser across the street, and I got this wide angle picture that has the state house up (gesture). And the interesting thing is when he was called to speak, it had been rainy--not rainy, but gray and overcast the whole morning, and a little chilly. When he came up to speak the sun came out--literally. I mean, it was just amazing (laughter). And I got that shot, you know. You can see the clouds kind of breaking, and the blue of the sky a little bit, and the light, you know, off the dome, the golden dome, and all of this wide stretch of stage and him speaking. So, that was my wide shot, and then I got a lot of close ups, you know, with the swearing in and all of that. But it was a very unique experience. And that's what I really cherished about being a photographer, is to be at events like that, to be where history is being made, and it's been good.$$Yeah, it places you right in the center of it. Yeah (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, yeah, and being around those history makers.

Robert Tutman

Cameraman and producer Robert Tutman was born on October 15, 1946 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Tutman initially worked as a still photographer until 1968, when he was hired as a cameraman for NBC’s WBAL-TV in Baltimore. In 1970, Tutman moved to CBS Network News in Chicago, Illinois, becoming the company’s first African American cameraman. For the next twenty-five years, Tutman covered national and international news stories for CBS. He also taught as an associate professor at Columbia University in 1973 through the Michelle Clark Minority Fellowship.

From 1995 to 1999, Tutman served as a senior cameraman for Chicago’s WBBM-TV, where he worked on breaking news stories, from hard news to feature pieces, documentaries, special projects and long format programs. In 1996, Tutman established his own production company, and, from 1999 to 2001 he produced fifty half-hour programs and twelve three-hour specials for the Chicago Public Schools. He went on to serve as a producer for Monument City Films in Baltimore from 2001 to 2002; and, in 2003, became a producer for WYCC-TV, a PBS station based in Chicago. Tutman later worked as director of photography for The Africa Channel and as a producer at Chicago Film Works. His film credits include The Providence Effect and Common Enemy.

Tutman’s honors include Emmy Award nominations as well as the Gold Camera Award, which he received during the 1996 Chicago Industrial Film Festival for his work on Common Enemy. He has also served as president of the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Robert Tutman was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 22, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.261

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/22/2014

Last Name

Tutman

Maker Category
Schools

Coleridge Taylor Elementary School

P.S. 111, Frances Ellen Harper Elementary School

Booker T. Washington Middle School for the Arts

Baltimore City College

Coppin State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

TUT01

Favorite Season

Any Time I'm Alive

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Favorite Quote

Stuck On Stupid.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/15/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Photojournalist and producer Robert Tutman (1946 - ) was the first African American cameraman hired by CBS News, where he served from 1970 to 1999.

Employment

WBAL-TV

CBS Network News

WBBM-TV

Monument City Films

Robert Tutman Productions

WYCC-TV

The Africa Channel

Chicago Film Works

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:3116,64:3496,70:4104,77:8588,193:9044,200:25874,548:34031,632:34339,637:34801,645:35109,650:41202,726:44800,772:45448,783:66350,1159:68305,1177:71365,1224:78068,1368:78416,1373:78938,1381:81026,1427:87572,1594:87940,1599:96905,1741:111182,1965:111922,1984:115412,2017:116088,2042:125222,2183:126916,2213:127840,2228:135165,2291:141188,2376:145933,2486:149021,2499:150897,2540:155380,2638:158740,2738:162100,2827:162500,2833:162900,2839:171261,2947:173718,3007:184297,3174:190213,3274:192301,3308:199996,3393:202350,3416:202863,3429:203946,3488:208065,3541:220142,3717:227996,3896:233190,3942:243404,4086:252110,4210:252455,4216:253973,4249:260424,4324:262452,4364:263700,4395:264090,4401:265182,4423:265572,4429:266274,4441:272490,4573$0,0:10415,129:10829,135:11312,146:11588,151:14969,213:15452,221:18737,240:19295,248:25004,307:29247,347:31235,391:31590,398:32513,420:33649,448:55228,762:55543,768:61053,839:77638,1108:82670,1221:84076,1248:93577,1418:94003,1425:96062,1473:105822,1564:109078,1644:119730,1778:120738,1794:121026,1799:124698,1902:126354,1944:130272,1979:133540,2042:143288,2142:143820,2153:144124,2158:145390,2267:166445,2531:172748,2665:183465,2777:184375,2875:190950,3176:230808,3568:233200,3599:262973,3986:266111,4042:266580,4051:266915,4087:277555,4179:278910,4185:289830,4539:302960,4768:303196,4773:303550,4780:305615,4833:308430,4892
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert Tutman's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert Tutman lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert Tutman describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert Tutman talks about his mother's upbringing in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert Tutman describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert Tutman talks about his father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert Tutman describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert Tutman talks about his brother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert Tutman describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robert Tutman describes his earliest memory of school

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Robert Tutman remembers his neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Robert Tutman describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Robert Tutman remembers his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert Tutman talks about the development of social policies

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert Tutman recalls his early frustrations with school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert Tutman remembers his influential teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert Tutman remembers learning about Frances Watkins Harper

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert Tutman describes his experiences as a Boy Scout

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert Tutman describes how he became interested in photography

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert Tutman remembers his first professional photography lessons

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert Tutman remembers his high school photography club

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Robert Tutman talks about Baltimore City College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Robert Tutman recalls his introduction to the photography community

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Robert Tutman remembers working at a Chinese restaurant

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Robert Tutman recalls his decision to attend Coppin State College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Robert Tutman talks about his decision to complete two extra years of high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert Tutman remembers his family's reaction to his delayed high school graduation

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert Tutman recalls his decision to leave college and work in a steel mill

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert Tutman remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert Tutman talks about the African American community in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert Tutman recalls his start as a professional cameraman

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert Tutman recalls the opportunities for black reporters during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert Tutman remembers covering the assassination of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert Tutman remembers his hiring as a cameraman for CBS News

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert Tutman remembers covering the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert Tutman describes Emperor Hirohito's visit to the United States

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert Tutman remembers meeting Nelson Mandela

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert Tutman recalls his conversation with Rosa Parks

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert Tutman talks about his colleagues at CBS News

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert Tutman talks about his friendship with Ed Bradley

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert Tutman talks about the private personalities of television reporters

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert Tutman remembers the election of Mayor Harold Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robert Tutman recalls covering Walter Mondale's vice presidential campaign

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Robert Tutman describes his interviews with Walter Mondale

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Robert Tutman remembers Walter Mondale's intervention on behalf of his grandmother

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert Tutman reflects upon his friendship with Walter Mondale

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert Tutman describes his involvement with the National Association of Black Journalists, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert Tutman describes his involvement with the National Association of Black Journalists, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert Tutman talks about DeWayne Wickham

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert Tutman remembers leaving the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert Tutman talks about the physical demands of newsreel videography

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert Tutman reflects upon the changes in management at CBS News

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robert Tutman remembers being captured while reporting overseas

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Robert Tutman talks about the dangers of working as a news cameraman

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Robert Tutman talks about challenging the prejudice of white reporters

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Robert Tutman reflects upon his passion for newsreel videography

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert Tutman describes his travel schedule as a cameraman

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert Tutman talks about balancing his career and personal life

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert Tutman talks about minimizing his exposure to danger

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert Tutman describes the risks of covering events like September 11, 2001

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert Tutman talks about his involvement in education

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert Tutman describes his work on feature and documentary films

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robert Tutman remembers his awards and honors

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Robert Tutman describes his work with The Africa Channel

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Robert Tutman remembers joining Chicago Film Works

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Robert Tutman reflects upon the changes in video technology

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Robert Tutman talks about his camera preferences

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Robert Tutman describes his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Robert Tutman reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Robert Tutman reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Robert Tutman reflects upon his relationship with DeWayne Wickham

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Robert Tutman describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Robert Tutman shares his concerns for the future of black journalism

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Robert Tutman talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Robert Tutman reflects upon the importance of practice

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Robert Tutman describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

6$8

DATitle
Robert Tutman describes how he became interested in photography
Robert Tutman remembers being captured while reporting overseas
Transcript
Now did you have any particular talents you were cultivating in those days? Were you--were you artistic then?$$Yeah--a photographer, that's the only thing I wanted to do.$$Okay, I mean in, in middle school [Booker T. Washington Junior High School; Booker T. Washington Middle School for the Arts, Baltimore, Maryland]? I mean, I mean when did photography? I know, I know you did, did you have a camera (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I got hooked on photography, I got hooked on photography in 1954, when I was eight years old.$$Okay.$$And the reason that I got hooked on photography is my cousin Reggie [ph.] was a con man and he's also my best friend at the time but he was older than me and he knew all of these tricks that we did not know. I learned how to count because my cousin Reggie hustled me out of a dime, he came up to me and he showed me a nickel and I had a dime and he said, "Look, I'll trade you the big one for the little one," and so I traded him a dime for a nickel and I came back in the house and I showed my grandfather [Tutman's maternal grandfather, Claude Allen] my nickel, he said, said, "Buck where did you get that from?" I said, "I got this from Reggie." He said, "Well how how'd you get this from Reggie?" I said, "We traded it." He said, "Minnie [Tutman's maternal grandmother, Minnie Magee Allen], the boy can't count," and the next thing I knew I was sitting down learning how to count money.$$So, in terms of the can- photography (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Photography?$$Yeah, how did Reggie--?$$Do you know what sun pictures are by any chance?$$Some pictures?$$Sun, S-U-N.$$Sun, oh--$$Sun pictures.$$--with a pinhole camera?$$No. Sun--well that is another way of sun pictures, but what they used to sale was a little pack of paper than had photosensitive paper in it and negatives. And they would cut black and white negatives out of 35mm movie film, old movie film that they didn't use and stick this in a little package and they'd sell this for a dime. And you'd take this little pack of paper and you take this negative and put it on this pack of paper and sit it out in the sun and you'd make a picture, sun picture. Well, my cousin Reggie knew about this because he was older and so, he said to us, "You give me a dime," back to the dime again, "and I'll show you a magic trick." I said, "Okay," so we go down in the basement he's got this thing setup in the basement and he's got these three trays of magic water setup in the basement and he's got a light and he's got some magic paper and he said, "Now come here, give me your money," everybody give him, everybody gives their money out to Reggie, he said, "Now give me your hand," so he'd put your hand on this piece of magic paper and he'd turn the light on and turn the light off real quick and then he said some magic words over the pap- (makes sound), I don't know what he said, magic. And now you're looking at this paper in the dark, he says, "Now," he says this magic over the water and takes the paper and he sticks it in the water and, and the hand comes up, and I'm, man that was it, done, I was hooked, that's it, I had it, that's what I want to do, magic. So I go back and I try it and it don't work, I take a piece of paper and it just, it, man I said the same words, I did--don't work, he said, "I'm not gone show you my trick." And what had happened is, my uncle Milton [Milton Allen], which was my mother's [Theresa Allen Tutman] brother was a professional photographer and Reggie had found a box of his photo paper back in the basement and Reggie had gone to the store, he got thirty-five cents somewhere and what was called a tri-chem pack, which were three chemicals for thirty-five cents which were photo chemicals 'cause that's how you used to buy chemicals back in the '50s [1950s], you just buy a pack of chemicals, go and mix them up, print a picture--most people that were in photography did their own work. You had your own dar- darkroom, you printed your own pictures, you developed your own negatives, and so that's what he did. And, it was magic and I just, I wanted to take pictures after that so I had a little Brownie Hawkeye and I ran around shooting pictures every chance I could get. That's all I wanted to do was take pictures. I spent hours in the darkroom, hou- I mean every day I was in the darkroom. That's just what I did: I didn't care about school, I didn't care about anything; I just wanted to be in the darkroom taking pictues (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) So this is from age eight?$$Oh yeah.$$Okay.$$Magic.$They do it, they did--we had a guy get captured overseas in Iraq, Iran, somewhere, I don't know where it was, might have been in South America, I just forgot where it was and they were being held prisoner and CBS network television hired a team of mercenaries to go in and get this guy out and they went in shooting and got this guy out who was a reporter that was being held prisoner. And when I heard about it, I had just come on board with the company and I got indignant, "How dare you go into a foreign country and, and (unclear) you shouldn't do any, that you don't have any right to do any--wha- what? Are you people--who do you think?" And a guy turns to me, "Hey, if you got captured, we'd come and get your black ass too, so what do you have to say about that?" "Hey man thanks, appreciate it." So, we never had any fear of getting in trouble, we never had any fear of anything happening because we knew that the company would bail us out.$$Now did, did you cover a story at any time, you know, whether it be in the Middle East or Asia, or Central or South--South America, or Africa where you thought you were going to get kidnapped?$$Oh got kidnapped, got captured.$$Okay.$$Yeah, oh sure, that's happened before. I got captured in Cairo [Egypt] when Ansar--Anwar Sadat got killed and when Anwar Sadat got killed he--we went to cover his funeral, so I'm out, I'm taking pictures and I walk out and I'm taking pictures and this guy said, "We told you not to take--." They grabbed us, took the camera, took all our gear, they're holding us--man, I'm like, (makes sound), and now, you know, now they holding us, shit, nobody knows where we are, we don't have any credentials, we don't have any passports, they're holding us, like, shit. So, guy comes in, "Okay, I told you not to take pictures so you're going to be here." "Wait a minute, you didn't tell me anything." "Yes, I did." I said, "Have you ever met a black American before?" He's like, "Well no." I said, "Then if you've never met a black American before, I'm a black American, how could you have told me anything?" The guy was like, "Where are you from?" I'm like, "I'm from Chicago [Illinois]." "Chicago?" He said, "This is--Al Capone," he says, "Al Capone is a friend of mine." I said, "Well he's a friend of mine too." He said, "Man this is friends here, my friend here," and all of a sudden, he and I and Al Capone became friends and he let us go. I said, "Well can I get my camera?" "Yeah, take your camera man that's, we're friends," so because we fr- all friends with Al Capone, I got to go. Now I'm in Nicaragua and we get captured in Nicaragua, so we get captured in Nicaragua, they're holding us and then they're getting ready to let us go, right?$$Now you're being held by the Contras or the Sandinistas [Sandinista National Liberation Front] (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Sandinista got us.$$Okay.$$So the Sandis got us and now they going to let us go, they ain't keep us but for two, three days that's all, not a long time. So the guy says, "Okay, strip, take your clothes off." I said, "Take your clothes off? Man, I'm not taking my clothes off." Said, "You got, man it's like--we need everything, we need shoes, we need clothes, we need socks, we need everything you've got and you're going back to your hotel but we gotta have your--." It's about eight of us they had, and, "Strip naked and get outta here." I'm like, "Man, you cannot, you cannot take my clothes, now what--," I said, "let me explain something to you man, six white guys, black guy, if we walk out the jungle naked, the only person's picture that's going to be on the front of Newsweek magazine is me, they're not going to put the naked white guys, they going to put the naked black guy with the camera." The guy looked at me, he looked at them, and he looked at me and we come walking out the jungle, I got all my shit, and walking with six naked white boys (laughter).$$What a story, that's--so now, wa- those the only two times that you got--?$$Those are the only two times that I got captured by people that I didn't think were going to let me go.$$$$Okay, okay but it's, it's, it's then it's a usual thing to be detained or, or (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh man, you get detained--I've been detained by all the ti- I was in Wounded Knee [South Dakota] when they took over the post office at Wounded Knee, the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] grabs us sneaking out and they hold us and questioning you and stuff, "Man go away," you know, "free press," you know, they keep you for two hours, cops will hold you, happens all the time, you don't ev- you know, like they're gonna let you go, I mean like, you're not doing anything, you're not trying to hurt anybody, you know, free speech means a lot to members of the press sometimes. Well used to twenty years ago, I don't know what it's doing now.

Ozier Muhammad

Photojournalist Ozier Muhammad was born in 1950. His grandfather was Elijah Muhammad, a founder and leader of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad was raised in Chicago, Illinois and received his B.A. degree in photography from Columbia College Chicago in 1972.

Muhammad was first hired as a photographer for Ebony magazine in the early 1970s. He then worked at The Charlotte Observer from 1978 to 1980, and at Newsday from 1980 to 1992. While at Newsday, he shared the 1985 Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting with Josh Friedman and Dennis Bell, for a series of reports titled “Africa, The Desperate Continent.” In 1992, Muhammad was hired as a staff photographer for The New York Times, where he took iconic photographs of President Barack Obama’s campaign, Haiti after the earthquake, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and the Nato Protest in Chicago. He has also written articles for the The New York Times photojournalism blog “Lens.”

Muhammad was selected as a contributing photographer for the 1990 Songs of My People, a book, exhibition and multimedia project that attempted to record African American life through the eyes of prominent African American photographers. In addition, his photography was showcased in the 2000 book, One Hundred Jobs: A Panorama of Work in the American City, by Ron Howell.

Besides winning the Pulitzer Prize, Muhammad received the George Polk Award for News Photography in 1984, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Columbia College Chicago in 1998. He served as a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University from 1986 to 1987, and a Peter Jennings Fellow at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia in 2007.

Muhammad lives in New York City, and is the father of two children. His son, Khalil, is the Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. His daughter, Pilar, is in high school.

Ozier Muhammad was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 9, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.223

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/15/2014

Last Name

Muhammad

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Columbia College Chicago

Sister Clara Muhammad School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Ozier

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

MUH01

State

Illinois

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

10/8/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Short Description

Photojournalist Ozier Muhammad (1950 - ) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for The New York Times.

Employment

New York Times

Newsday

Charlotte Observer

Johnson Publishing

Michel du Cille

Photojournalist Michel du Cille was born in 1956 in Kingston, Jamaica. His initial interest in photography is credited to his father, a pastor-minister, who worked as a newspaper reporter both in Jamaica and in the United States. Du Cille began his career in photojournalism while in high school working at The Gainesville (GA) Times. In 1985, he received his B.S. degree in journalism from Indiana University. Du Cille also received his M.S. degree in journalism from Ohio University in 1994.

While studying at Indiana University, du Cille was a photographer and picture editor at the Indiana Daily Student. He then worked as an intern at The Louisville Courier Journal/Times in 1979 and at The Miami Herald in 1980. Du Cille joined The Miami Herald's photography staff in 1981. In 1988, he was hired as a picture editor for The Washington Post. In 2005, du Cille became associate editor, and was named assistant managing editor of photography in 2007. Then, in 2009, when The Washington Post newsroom was re-organized and combined with washingtonpost.com, du Cille's title went from assistant managing editor of photography to director of photography. In 2012, he again became an associate editor for photography.

Du Cille has won three Pulitzer Prizes. He shared the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography with fellow Miami Herald staff photographer, Carol Guzy, for their coverage of the November 1985 eruption of Colombia's Nevado del Ruiz volcano. Du Cille won the 1988 Feature Photography Pulitzer for a photo essay on crack cocaine addicts in a Miami housing project. In 2008, he shared the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service with Washington Post reporters, Dana Priest and Anne Hull, for exposing mistreatment of wounded veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In addition, du Cille led a team of editors that assembled the photographs shot by Nikki Kahn, Carol Guzy, and Ricky Carioti into the essay that won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News photography for their coverage of the Haitian earthquake and its aftermath.

Du Cille has been active in the National Press Photographers Association (NPPF) in various committee and leadership roles, including serving as the executive committee board representative in 2000, as well as on the organization's finance committee in the early 2000s. Du Cille served on the Pulitzer Prize jury in the photography categories, and as a University of Missouri School of Journalism Pictures of the Year International judge.

Du Cille passed away on December 11, 2014 at the age of 58. He was married to Washington Post photojournalist Nikki Khan, also a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Michel du Cille was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 27, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.006

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/27/2014

Last Name

duCille

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Everard

Occupation
Schools

Gainesville High School

Indiana University

Ohio University

Valdosta State University

Indiana University Southeast

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Michel

Birth City, State, Country

Kingston

HM ID

DUC01

Favorite Season

Christmas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

I’m Just A Regular Guy.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

1/24/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

Jamaica

Favorite Food

Jamaican Food

Death Date

12/11/2014

Short Description

Photojournalist Michel du Cille (1956 - 2014 ) was the director of photography at The Washington Post and a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner.

Employment

Gainesville Times

Indiana Daily Student

Louisville Courier-Journal

Miami Herald

The Washington Post

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:7695,135:8424,169:8991,177:14871,237:16048,251:19579,314:20542,324:22040,366:23110,383:24822,404:30512,471:42443,667:42831,672:43316,679:43801,685:47293,743:48554,759:49136,766:49912,776:50785,788:62060,882:62660,892:63635,910:70110,972:71210,983:74791,1017:76089,1052:76620,1064:76856,1069:77564,1084:77800,1089:81300,1105:84250,1114:89906,1156:92228,1184:92744,1194:93346,1202:96442,1242:96872,1248:104404,1311:104874,1317:116301,1437:116636,1444:127438,1496:129532,1520:131170,1615:133260,1671$0,0:801,12:7298,142:8099,158:9523,174:13085,188:13550,195:17642,266:18386,277:19781,297:20246,303:20618,308:21176,316:22757,332:26291,393:26942,402:29732,521:30383,529:30755,540:31127,545:31499,550:36300,561:36648,566:36996,571:37953,585:39519,605:40737,630:63562,869:64346,878:65032,887:67090,914:69638,950:75243,992:77455,1032:77771,1040:78087,1045:79035,1068:79351,1073:82037,1124:82353,1129:87640,1167:87960,1172:93800,1282:94200,1288:94760,1298:97000,1343:97720,1356:99320,1377:99800,1384:100520,1396:100920,1402:118556,1573:119424,1581:122874,1603:123666,1613:131234,1752:131586,1758:132378,1768:133698,1790:138364,1830:141276,1861:159098,2080:159945,2094:160561,2103:164820,2164:165320,2169:167580,2209
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Michel du Cille's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Michel du Cille lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Michel du Cille describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Michel du Cille talks about his mother's Syrian and Indian ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Michel du Cille remembers his mother's chronic illness

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Michel du Cille describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Michel du Cille describes his father's career

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Michel du Cille remembers his family's immigration to the United States

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Michel du Cille talks about his parents' elopement

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Michel du Cille describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Michel du Cille lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Michel du Cille describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Michel du Cille describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Michel du Cille talks about his interest in Rastafarianism

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Michel du Cille remembers the popular culture of Jamaica

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Michel du Cille describes his schooling in Jamaica

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Michel du Cille remembers his early exposure to photography

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Michel du Cille recalls the start of his photography training

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Michel du Cille describes his experiences of school integration

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Michel du Cille describes his favorite subjects in school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Michel du Cille remembers his brothers' schooling

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Michel du Cille talks about his photographic influences

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Michel du Cille remembers his early photography assignments

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Michel du Cille recalls his conflicts with the principal at Gainesville High School

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Michel du Cille recalls his rejection from the University of Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Michel du Cille remembers transferring to Indiana University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Michel du Cille describes his experiences at the Indiana University School of Journalism in Bloomington, Indiana

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Michel du Cille remembers developing his photography portfolio

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Michel du Cille talks about his internship at the Miami Herald

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Michel du Cille remembers his early cameras

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Michel du Cille remembers joining the staff of the Miami Herald

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Michel du Cille talks about the Miami Herald's coverage of the riots in 1980

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Michel du Cille talks about the African American leadership in Miami, Florida

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Michel du Cille talks about the Pulitzer Prize winning black photographers

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Michel du Cille remembers photographing the eruption of Nevado del Ruiz

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Michel du Cille remembers winning a Pulitzer Prize in Spot News Photography

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Michel du Cille talks about his Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Michel du Cille talks about the prevalence of crack cocaine use

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Michel du Cille remembers joining The Washington Post

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Michel du Cille recalls his recognition from the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Michel du Cille talks about the risks of photojournalism

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Michel du Cille remembers integrating a restaurant in South Africa

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Michel du Cille talks about the conflict between the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Michel du Cille remembers his master's degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Michel du Cille describes his master's degree thesis

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Michel du Cille talks about the use of photography in The Washington Post

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Michel du Cille describes his career at The Washington Post

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Michel du Cille talks about his second marriage

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Michel du Cille talks about the photography department at The Washington Post

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Michel du Cille reflects upon the difference between writers and photojournalists

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Michel du Cille describes his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Michel du Cille describes his involvement with the National Press Photographers Foundation

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Michel du Cille talks about the opportunities for aspiring photojournalists

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Michel du Cille describes his philosophy of photography

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Michel du Cille talks about his favorite photographers

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Michel du Cille describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Michel du Cille reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Michel du Cille talks about his children

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Michel du Cille reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Michel du Cille describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

2$1

DATitle
Michel du Cille recalls the start of his photography training
Michel du Cille remembers winning a Pulitzer Prize in Spot News Photography
Transcript
Did he shoot anything for The Gleaner?$$No, he didn't, which, which was part--the part that I missed at that age. I didn't really--so when my dad [Frank du Cille, Sr.] started working for the newspaper in Georgia [The Times], I, again, started to go into the photo department. 'Cause my dad would take me to the newspaper with him, and I would go and ask a lot of questions of the photographer for the staff, and ask him to let me come with him on assignments. And he really did teach me a lot. And, and to this day, I can't remember that guy's name, but he was a very patient man. I remember him telling me one day, 'cause I--he was going to a shoot and he, he said that I could come with him, but I wasn't dressed properly. And he, he took me home to change before we went to the assignment because he wanted me to look presentable (laughter). But the photographer for the paper did teach me a lot of stuff. And then I took--I took a photo course from the local recreation center, and it happened to be the same guy teaching the photo course that was my math teacher at the high school. And he insisted that we learn not from 35mm or 2 1/4, but from 4x5. First we have to build the pinhole camera, then we had to learn to use the large format 4x5 camera, which is a Speed Graphic. He had--he had a Speed Graphic that he taught us to use--taught us to, to, to--he said he felt that composition--you have to learn composition with a large negative. (Pause) And--but I--I--that was my first photo course.$$So this is at, at Gainesville (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) In Gainesville [Georgia]--$$--High School [Gainesville High School]?$$In Gainesville. Yes.$So you were talking off camera maybe about the pictures and the photos and that you shot of the volcano [Nevado del Ruiz]--I mean eruption--$$Yeah. So, I, I called into the office to say that I really wanted to go to this assignment. It was my turn to go. I felt that I was ready to go. And I could tell that my boss wasn't 100 percent, you know, in tune with that. But then they came up with the idea of let's send Michel [HistoryMaker Michel du Cille] and Carol [Carol Guzy]. Let's send the two of those together because they would work well together. They knew that we had a good friendship and that we would, you know, work well together. And so, so Carol and I actually went--we, we, along with two other news organizations, chartered a, a, a jet to fly from Miami [Florida] to Colombia. And we, we didn't land in Bogota [Colombia]. We landed in--at the airstrip that was only like, you know, maybe about eight or nine, ten kilometers from the eruption. So what we did was we kept the jet on the runway and told the guys to stay there so that we could come back and bring film to them so that they could fly back with the film. I mean, back then the only other option would have been to use the AP [Associated Press] to send on the drum, you know. And back then I think color was just beginning for the--to be going over the wire, but it wasn't great. So we really wanted that color film to get back. And we were shooting--we were--we were photographing with slides. We were use--shooting Ektachrome and Fujichrome, so it had to be, you know processed special process. So it was a brilliant move for us to keep the jet on the runway, and, and say, "Okay you're, you're bring it back to Miami." And that's how we were able to get good, brilliant color pictures in the paper [Miami Herald]. You know, and of course they ran the young girl underwater on the front page. And I think later on, you know, that the helicopter picture--I can show them to you on my--on my laptop. But, you know, Carol and I worked very well together, and so to our surprise, our story won the Pulitzer Prize [Pulitzer Prize in Spot News Photography] in 1986 from work that was done in November of '85 [1985].

William Moore

Photojournalist William Moore was born on May 23, 1933. He graduated from Oakland Technical High School, and went on to receive his B.S. degree in photography from Laney College in Oakland, California.

Upon graduation, Moore worked as a freelance photographer for various black-owned newspapers, magazines and radio stations. Then, in 1968, Moore was hired as a television news cameraman for KTVU in Oakland, California, making him the first full-time African American news cameraman in commercial television in the State of California. He was hired alongside Dennis Richmond, one of the first African Americans to become chief anchor of a major-market TV newscast, as a result of a federal court mandate. In 1969, while working for KTVU, Moore was hired by the Associated Press as a freelance photographer. He was eventually promoted to chief photographer at KTVU.

As a cameraman, Moore covered such events as the Loma Prieta earthquake, the Oakland Hills Fire, the O.J. Simpson murder trial, and the murders of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. He also filmed anti-war and civil rights movements and demonstrations of the late 1960s and 1970s, as well as the Nicaraguan earthquake of 1988. In addition, Moore traveled and worked internationally, filming in many countries including Haiti, Italy, Brazil, Kenya, and South Africa. He retired from KTVU in 1996, and, in 2003, Moore was hired as an adjunct professor at Ohlone College in Fremont, California, where he teaches digital video in the college’s broadcasting and television department.

Moore has been a volunteer for Seven Tepees, an afterschool mentoring and enrichment program for middle and high school students in San Francisco. He was also a board member of the Committee on the Shelterless, a program that assists the homeless in Sonoma County. Moore lives with his wife, Belva Davis, in San Francisco. They have two children: Steven Davis, owner of a catering business, and Darolyn Davis, owner of a public relations firm.

William Moore was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 7, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.304

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/7/2013

Last Name

Moore

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Oakland Technical High School

Laney College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

William

HM ID

MOO17

Favorite Season

Summer

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

5/23/1933

Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Francisco

Favorite Food

Italian Food

Short Description

Photojournalist William Moore (1933 - ) was the first full-time African American news cameraman in commercial television in the state of California.

Employment

Freelance Photographer

KTVU

Associated Press (AP)

Ohlone College

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:314050,4893$0,0:2040,28:12670,91:12990,96:17630,176:20750,221:22270,249:30394,344:33361,415:33982,427:34672,440:35017,446:35569,456:37915,534:40054,584:40951,605:41296,611:41779,619:44677,688:46057,716:56579,868:60083,943:70617,1060:71086,1069:71421,1075:77585,1211:79394,1256:84151,1367:96985,1593:97363,1600:105070,1716:107030,1764:108430,1787:109060,1815:130738,2186:142724,2460:147410,2588:147872,2596:148334,2607:148796,2616:150182,2688:160920,2850:163260,2862
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William Moore's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William Moore describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William Moore describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William Moore talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William Moore describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William Moore talks about his brothers and his sister

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William Moore describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William Moore describes his childhood neighborhood in Oakland, California in the 1930s and 1940s

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - William Moore talks about the schools he attended in Oakland, California, childhood pastimes, and watching a Negro League baseball game

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - William Moore talks about experiencing racism at school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William Moore talks about famous athletes of his generation that came out of Oakland, California

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William Moore talks about being mentored by local photographer Chuck Willis

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William Moore talks about his high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William Moore talks about his mentor Chuck Willis's work and being an assistant to Willis

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William Moore talks being drafted in the United States Army and serving in Korea

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William Moore talks about learning the technical process of photography at Laney College on the G-I Bill

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - William Moore talks about his first jobs as a photographer after graduating from Laney College in Oakland, California

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - William Moore talks about meeting his wife at his mentor Chuck Willis's photography studio

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - William Moore describes how he got hired for his first job in television in 1968

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William Moore talks about the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and being hired at KTVU Channel 2 in Oakland, California

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William Moore talks about working with KTVU News in Oakland, California in the late 1960s and early 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William Moore talks about covering anti-Vietnam War protests in Berkeley, California, which motivated him to cover news stories

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William Moore talks about covering the Black Panthers and the Patty Hearst kidnapping for KTVU Channel 2 in Oakland, California

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William Moore describes the day Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated and covering the Dan White trial

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - William Moore discusses his personal connections to Jim Jones's followers and reporting on Jones's church

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - William Moore talks about covering the 1988 earthquake in Nicaragua for KTVU Channel 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - William Moore talks about filming news stories with his wife, HistoryMaker Belva Davis, while on vacation in Jamaica, Brazil, Italy, and Haiti

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - William Moore talks about covering an assignment in Kenya with his wife, HistoryMaker Belva Davis, and filming in South Africa

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - William Moore talks about covering the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, California, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William Moore talks about covering the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, California, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William Moore recalls the Oakland Hill fire of 1991

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William Moore talks about the impact of the 1994 O.J. Simpson trial on news coverage of court trials

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William Moore talks about the archive of news footage from his career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William Moore reflects upon covering multiple historic events and the impact of covering the assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - William Moore talks about his volunteer work and teaching at Ohlone College after retiring from broadcasting in 1996

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - William Moore talks about the technological developments in film since he started his career in 1968 and his decision to retire

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - William Moore talks about teaching at Ohlone College in Fremont, California

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - William Moore talks about the possibility of exhibiting his photographs or publishing a book

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - William Moore reflects on his career in the San Francisco Bay Area

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - William Moore talks about his professional legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - William Moore talks about his hopes and concerns for the African-American community

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William Moore talks about the advice he would give to young African Americans who wish to get involved in television or photography

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William Moore talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William Moore talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

8$5

DATitle
William Moore talks about filming news stories with his wife, HistoryMaker Belva Davis, while on vacation in Jamaica, Brazil, Italy, and Haiti
William Moore reflects upon covering multiple historic events and the impact of covering the assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone
Transcript
I know you did quite a bit of travel, from what I understand in our outline; that you went to Haiti, you shot in Italy, Brazil, Kenya, and in South Africa.$$Well, my wife and I, when we went on vacation we thought it would be nice to do some things on our own. And so we would, we would go on vacation, and I would just take a film camera along and shoot a little film. I think our first vacation we ever went to, we went to Jamaica. And I took a black and white camera and shot a little film. And we kind of did some experimental things--things we would just try out that we knew that her station would buy. And when Alex Haley was finishing "Roots," he was living in Jamaica. And he was always in contact with my wife when he was at sea somewhere. He'd call her or send her a card, and say if you ever come to Jamaica, look me up. So, we said we're going to Jamaica and we're going to look up Alex Haley. And he said come, and we went to Jamaica, and we took film camera. We met him up at his house in Negril and shot some film at his house. And that time he had, he had sold Roots to ABC [American Broadcasting Company]. And it was going to be the first mini-series that television ever ran. So, he was really kind of pumped about that. We did a great interview with him then and shot some film with then. And that, that turned out to be a great little film story. That--on that, we decided to try some others. The other most successful one we did, we were going on vacation to Brazil, to Carnival. And my wife said, well why don't we just shoot Carnival? And I had no idea how large Carnival was. I don't know if you've ever been to Carnival in Brazil. But I tell everyone, if you go to Carnival in Brazil, you don't have to go to Carnival anywhere else in the world. You can skip Trinidad, you can skip New Orleans [Louisiana], you can skip all the rest of those. When you went to Brazil at the year--and I forget which year it was, maybe '85 [1985] or '86 [1986]. There was no American television there. So, we knew we could sell some of our filming to the station that my wife worked at. They said they'd buy some. I think we sold a lot to Telemundo. And so, we knew we were going to make some money, and we got a couple of great stories. You know, we had--overall just covering Carnival was just a story within itself, the massiveness of this. But there was an engineer whose company went to Brazil to build a bridge. And he talked his company into leaving him there as a consultant. And he had been in consulting for this engineering company for about twelve years, still on the payroll. But he played in a Brazilian band, and he made a great story. And here was this, you know, guy sitting on a, you know, this great salary, living in Brazil. And then he hooked us up with a couple of good Samba schools. So, we got some good inside stuff on Samba schools. So, it turned out to be a good coverage of Carnival for two people, with not even a producer, just my wife and I. And we went up to Bya and did a little bit of Carnival up there. So, that was fun, too. Italy was another one. In the main symphony hall here in San Francisco [California], they were building an organ. And that organ was being built by someone in Italy. And we said "Let's go find him, wherever he is. (laughter). And if he's still working on this organ, we've got a great story." And he was way up in the northern part of Italy where they don't see tourists. And we found it, and found him and found him working on parts to it. And whenever I go to the symphony I always point out a part up there that I shot some film of when it was still in a crate in Italy, getting ready to be shipped back to here. So, those kinds of things made it fun. Haiti was a vacation that--by that time I worked with a reporter who liked to do travel stuff, kind of 'touristy' stuff. And we had a news director that said, "If you can go out and get an airline and a hotel and everybody to trade out, you can go." And so, they sent me and this reporter to Haiti. I'd never been to Haiti before we went on vacation there for a week. And then I came back home and went back to film. And at the time, Baby Doc [President Jean-Claude Duvalier] was the president. And it was kind of scary, because everyone referred to him, they didn't refer to him--they would refer to him as "my president for life." It was a picture of him on the ceiling or on the wall or anything. And you say, "Who is that?" And they would say, "That is my president for life." That is the only way they talked to him, they spoke of him. We did some travel stuff. We got in a little bit of trouble, but it wasn't anything to get us thrown out of the country. We got there and got in and out, and I found Haiti a very interesting country. I never had a chance to go back, but would like to.$$Okay, okay.$What would you consider the highlights of your time at KTVU?$$The highlights? I didn't--I tell people when they ask me about working in television. There were so many things that went on that turned out to be such huge stories in the twenty-eight years that I worked there. Had I spent my career in broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, I could only say that I had one story, when a volcano erupted. But, you know, when you go back and you think about the assassination of a mayor [George Moscone] and a supervisor [Harvey Milk]; you think about the movement and the start of the gay rights movement; the Black Panther Party; the anti-war... And all of these stories became major, major stories. They became major things that are just still talked about today--where you were--right in the middle of all that happening. So, there isn't any one particular thing. I think one of the moving things was, you know, being there when a mayor was shot and when a mayor was killed. And when I got to the City Hall [San Francisco, California], we knew the mayor's body was still inside of his office. So, one reporter went on to gather information, and said, "Stay here and get a shot of them bringing the mayor's body out." And I stayed and talked to a few other photographers for maybe ten minutes before the coroner's office came out with the mayor's body, and they rolled it in the elevator. And of course, none of us got in the elevator with them. We all ran down to the second floor-- mayor's office being on the... We ran down to the first floor, because the mayor's office was on the second floor. And all the photographers ran out the front door. And I ran to the basement. I don't know why, but I knew that they weren't going to bring the mayor out, right out, on the main street. They were going to take him out one of the side doors. And so, when I got to the basement, I was there by myself. And the door opened up, and just the two coroners come out with the mayor. And that's when it really kind of hit me. That's when it was emotional to me. At that particular time, my daughter went to the same school with his daughter. George Moscone was the kind of mayor that came over and said--pat you on the back--and say, "Hi, Bill, how are you doing. How's Dee Dee, how's Belva?" And so, it wasn't, he wasn't just the mayor that had gotten killed; he was somebody you consider a friend. It was kind of--really kind of got to you. But I still kind of worried about--I'm going to get this great inside shot of coming up and going down the hall, but I won't have the outside shot. But luckily, when I looked down the hallway where they were going to take him out, I could see one of our other photographers was there. So, I just remained there and did that long go-away shot. That kind of stuck with me for a long time. It's still there.

Ovie Carter

Photojournalist Ovie Carter was born on March 11, 1946 in Indianola, Mississippi to Grover and Mary Carter. Carter grew up in several different cities and attended Douglass High School in Memphis, Tennessee and John Marshall High School in Chicago, Illinois before graduating from Soldan High School in St. Louis, Missouri in 1964. He went on to attend Forest Park Community College. Carter served with the U.S. Air Force and upon his discharge; Carter attended the Ray Vogue School of Photography, now the Illinois Institute of Art. Directly after graduation, Carter was hired to work at The Chicago Tribune.

In 1974, Carter traveled for nearly three months through African and India with fellow Chicago Tribune reporter William Mullen documenting the famine affecting almost half a billion people. Their journey, entitled Faces of Hunger, appeared in The Chicago Tribune as a five-part series and won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize in international reporting. Photos from the series also won Carter the World Press Photo Contest in Amsterdam and the Overseas Press Club of America Award. In 1992, Mitch Duneier and Carter published the book Slim’s Table, based on Duneier’s Ph.D. dissertation. The two paired up again to publish Sidewalk in 2000 before Carter’s retirement in 2004.

Carter was named the Illinois Press Photographers Association’s Photographer of the Year in 1973-1974 and he has won the National Association of Black Journalists Excellence Award twice. In 2000, The Chicago Tribune honored Carter at their annual banquet for his thirty years of service. Carter also received the National Association of Black Journalists “Legends in Their Own Time” Distinguished Career award in 2004. Carter is a member of the Chicago Alliance of African American Photographers.

Ovie Carter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 26, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.035

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/26/2010

Last Name

Carter

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Calvin

Occupation
Schools

George Washington Carver Elementary School 87

Hyde Park Elementary School

John Marshall Metropolitan High School

Soldan International Studies High School

Illinois Institute of Art

Ray-Vogue College of Design

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Ovie

Birth City, State, Country

Indianola

HM ID

CAR20

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

California

Favorite Quote

With God, all things are possible.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

3/11/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Southern Food

Short Description

Photojournalist Ovie Carter (1946 - ) is a Putlitzer Prize winning photojournalist, recognized for his reporting on famine in Africa and India. He worked at The Chicago Tribune for thirty-four years.

Employment

Parents' Farm

Chicago Tribune

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Muted Tones

Timing Pairs
0,0:1950,33:2468,41:3060,51:3356,56:14722,181:18959,218:19697,225:20927,236:23525,249:24890,267:25618,284:26619,301:35203,401:35567,406:40390,464:40754,473:70626,774:71058,779:73758,825:95310,960:99220,1009:99645,1015:109486,1108:109816,1114:110410,1126:116414,1176:122710,1226:124950,1270:135563,1439:136772,1458:137609,1468:143561,1550:146444,1586:147281,1596:147839,1603:154858,1647:158212,1701:159158,1713:159932,1727:170080,1835:182209,1921:182793,1931:184730,1944:185160,1950:187224,1969:189116,1991:189890,2002:205933,2110:207890,2120$0,0:18647,145:19354,153:20263,165:21879,184:27923,230:28239,235:30293,267:32410,276:33010,282:35781,297:36477,307:37956,330:38391,336:44568,450:45525,463:50910,486:52170,500:52590,506:59030,607:63620,677:67580,746:84432,866:84756,871:87419,920:88332,933:89494,953:92233,995:92565,1000:98043,1113:98541,1121:98873,1126:100367,1136:101363,1151:104434,1213:104766,1218:115318,1331:115857,1339:116319,1347:118013,1374:118860,1387:119707,1400:121170,1428:147402,1863:151292,1897:151982,1914:165420,2145:171634,2193:172591,2214:176332,2329:180856,2412:181726,2427:185293,2512:198880,2647
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ovie Carter's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ovie Carter lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ovie Carter describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ovie Carter describes his mother's growing up in Indianola, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ovie Carter describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ovie Carter talks about his father's education and his work as a farmer

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ovie Carter talks about how his parents met and married

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ovie Carter talks about his siblings and his father's name

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ovie Carter talks about his parents' personalities and his likeness to them

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ovie Carter describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ovie Carter talks about moving from Indianola, Mississippi to Memphis, Tennessee to Chicago, Illinois as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ovie Carter describes the neighborhood where he grew up in Indianola, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ovie Carter describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Indianola, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ovie Carter describes growing up in Indianola, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ovie Carter describes race relations in Indianola, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ovie Carter talks about two academic studies on race relations in Indianola, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ovie Carter describes his experience in elementary school in Indianola, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ovie Carter talks about working with his family on the cotton farms of Indianola, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ovie Carter recalls the murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ovie Carter talks about his family leaving Indianola, Mississippi in the late 1950s and moving to Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ovie Carter talks about blues musicians from Mississippi and the musical scene in Indianola, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ovie Carter talks about B.B. King, and the Saturday night music scene in Indianola, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ovie Carter talks about the role of the Church in his community in Indianola, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ovie Carter talks about growing up listening to blues music

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ovie Carter describes his experience in school in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ovie Carter talks about injuring his knees as a child, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ovie Carter talks about injuring his knees as a child, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ovie Carter talks about his family's move to Chicago, Illinois in 1959, and their early life there

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ovie Carter talks about attending high school in Chicago, Illinois, and then moving to St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ovie Carter describes his experience in high school in Chicago, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ovie Carter describes his decision to go to college and his experience there

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Ovie Carter talks about dropping out of college and joining the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ovie Carter talks about his experience in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ovie Carter talks about the benefits of serving in the U.S. Air Force, and his introduction to reading books

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ovie Carter talks about his decision to stay in Chicago, Illinois, after his discharge from the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ovie Carter talks about his desire to go to New York City to work in theatre, and his decision to take photography classes

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ovie Carter talks about how he met his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ovie Carter describes his being hired as a photojournalist at the 'Chicago Tribune' in 1968, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ovie Carter describes his being hired as a photojournalist at the 'Chicago Tribune' in 1968, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ovie Carter talks about being the first African American photographer at the 'Chicago Tribune', and his African American colleagues

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ovie Carter talks about his job as a photographer at the 'Chicago Tribune', and his decision to stay in Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ovie Carter recalls the riots in Chicago, Illinois, following Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Ovie Carter talks about his early experience as a photojournalist at the 'Chicago Tribune'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ovie Carter talks about his work for the 'Chicago Tribune' on the drug culture in the West Side of Chicago, Illinois in the 1970s, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ovie Carter talks about his work for the 'Chicago Tribune' on the drug culture in the West Side of Chicago, Illinois in the 1970s, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ovie Carter talks about the reputation of the 'Chicago Tribune'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ovie Carter discusses his exhibits, and winning the Illinois Press Photographers Association's 'Photographer of the Year' award in 1972

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ovie Carter describes his experience photographing famine in India and across Africa in 1974

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ovie Carter reflects upon his trip to Africa in 1974

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ovie Carter discusses his exhibit with his fellow-photographers, entitled, 'Through the Eyes of Blackness'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ovie Carter talks about the black photographers he admired

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ovie Carter talks about his photography equipment

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ovie Carter talks about winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1975 and the World Press Photo Contest in 1976

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ovie Carter talks about traveling across the U.S. to assess the state of Native Americans in 1976

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ovie Carter talks about his divorce and how it affected him spiritually

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ovie Carter talks about Mitchell Duneier's book, 'Slim's Table', a book based on a restaurant in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ovie Carter talks about the changes in race relations in the South in the late 1990s and early 2000s

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ovie Carter talks about working with Mitchell Duneier on the book, 'Sidewalk'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ovie Carter reflects upon his favorite photograph

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ovie Carter reflects upon himself as a photographer

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ovie Carter talks about adapting to digital photography

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Ovie Carter reflects upon his career

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ovie Carter describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Ovie Carter reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Ovie Carter reflects upon the importance of a close-knit community of African American journalists

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Ovie Carter talks about his eyesight

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Ovie Carter talks about his family, and his parents' pride in his career

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Ovie Carter talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Ovie Carter describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

1$6

DATitle
Ovie Carter talks about his work for the 'Chicago Tribune' on the drug culture in the West Side of Chicago, Illinois in the 1970s, pt. 1
Ovie Carter talks about working with Mitchell Duneier on the book, 'Sidewalk'
Transcript
All right, so you're starting to suggest topics to your editor [at the 'Chicago Tribune'].$$I did.$$And (simultaneous)--$$I did.$$What kind of ideas did you have?$$Well, I'd say my concerns at the time were, you know, social conditions that we were experiencing as a nation. And, of course, the, the social environment that I came out of, on the West Side [Chicago, Illinois] in particular. And the drug culture was a huge problem out there even then, you know, with the people I knew, you know, relatives who had gotten caught up in it, destroyed by it and all that.$$And what was the nature of the drug problem then, was it heroin?$$Heroin.$$Yeah, okay.$$The, the heroin addiction, and the young men wanted to be pimps at the time. You know, this was when those movies were popular, blaxsploitation [film genre] and all that. So that was--that was very--a popular pursuit and ambition for a lot of young men, pimping and, and--and drug abuse was. And I could see how it was destroying the lives of the young people. So I thought, well, you know I'll take some photographs and I'll sort of, at least, bring this to the attention of our readers, you know. And I had no experience in, you know--what it meant to, to, to document a thing, you know. So I basically constructed the photographs, you know what I mean--illustrated it more than I did document it, you know what I mean. They were illustrations, but I did it in a--at the time, at least the newspaper thought so--thought that it was artfully done and, and, and well enough conceived that they decided to--and they were impressed enough that they wanted to run the pictures in the paper. And they decided to run them as an editorial, which was a first for the newspaper. They ran--they, they, they took all of the written material off the editorial page that day and just ran the photographs as the editorial. And, you know, subsequently, you know, the story was picked up by other newspapers and was featured in 'Editor & Publisher' magazine and all that. And, so that sort of began the type of, of work that I would continue to do for the newspaper.$Now in 2000, you and [Mitchell] Duneier published another book called 'Sidewalk'.$$Um-hmm.$$So tell us about 'Sidewalk'.$$Duneier, who was a law student also at the time, and he was a student at NYU [New York University]. And in that area of Greenwich Village, down there in Lower Manhattan, you would see these men--you've seen these guys who sell books on the sidewalks down there. Well, there was a--there was a C (ph.) Ordinance that made that possible for people to sell printed material as a First Amendment right--print material on the streets there without, you know, being taxed. They made it a First Amendment issue. So he would see these guys, you know, all the time there, and again, again. He's just is a keen observer of human nature. And as a--with the eye of a sociologist, he began to observe them, talk with them, and felt that he should do some research on them. And he started, you know, the research and discovered more and more about them and how, how they came to work down there, how they got their books, you know, and magazines, the kind of lifestyle that they, that they live. Many of them were drug abusers at the time and continued to do that type of work. And this type of work gave them--provided them the income that they needed to supply their--you know, their drug habits and everything without being a burden on society--without resorting to violence and stealing, you know, robbing people and things like that. So the story had a lot of rich components to it. So he had been working on it and he, you know, met some really interesting characters and then sort--then sort of developed along those lines. And there's a type of journ--sociology called participatory something or other where he has to participate as a researcher. So he was on the streets with them, you know, and all that for periods of--periods of time. And he began to talk to me about it when we were doing 'Sidewalk' I think--no, not 'Sidewalk'--but Valois [restaurant in Chicago, Illinois, where Dunieier's other book 'Slim's Table' was based]. Right after that he began to tell me about it. And so I went there to see for myself and meet some of the guys. And I hadn't spent a whole lot of time in New York before, so it was--you know, it was quite an experience especially down in, you know, the Village down there (unclear)--oh, the pace, you know, and everything. But--and I would go there for long weekends and take a little vacation time here and there. And over a period of a few years, you know, we finished the book--he finished the book and I, you know, supplied him with the photos that I had made.$$Okay, okay.

Chester Higgins, Jr.

Photographer and author Chester Higgins, Jr. was born in Fairhope, Alabama. Higgins’s years attending Tuskegee University in the late 1960s served as his inspiration to pursue a career in photography; during this time, he saw the work of photographer P.H. Polk, a man who would become his first mentor. Polk’s images powerfully impacted the viewer because of the way that they showed the dignity of African American life in the rural South during the 1930s. Hall’s photography, combined with Higgins acquiring his first camera just in time to bear witness to student unrest on the Tuskegee campus, provided the budding photographer with a strong motivation to document the African American experience in the United States as he saw it unfolding around him. Higgins would compile the work Student Unrest at Tuskegee Institute in 1968 about the events that he saw taking place on campus.

Higgins graduated in 1970 from Tuskegee University, and soon after moved to New York City to begin his professional career; his first assignment was to follow and document the political activities of Jesse Jackson, then a young civil rights activist. In 1975, Higgins began his work as a photographer for the New York Times, an association that would continue throughout his professional career. Over the years, Higgins’s photographs were also published in Look, Life, Time, Newsweek, Fortune, Ebony, Essence and Black Enterprise magazines.

In addition to his photojournalistic achievements, Higgins published several collections of his photography, including: Black Woman in 1970; Feeling the Spirit: Searching the World for the People of Africa in 1994; the Elder Grace: The Nobility of Aging in 2000; and Echo of the Spirit: A Photographer’s Journey in 2004. Higgins’s work was featured in a variety of solo exhibits, including the traveling exhibition Landscapes of the Soul, which toured nationally at locations such as the Smithsonian Institution, and the Museum for African Art in New York City. Selections of Higgins’s photography were acquired for the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Higgins has been the recipient of grants from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the International Center of Photography, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission, and the Andy Warhol Foundation, to carry out his work.

Accession Number

A2005.205

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/26/2005 |and| 9/2/2005

Last Name

Higgins

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Warren G. Smith School

Tuskegee University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Chester

Birth City, State, Country

Fairhope

HM ID

HIG03

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa

Favorite Quote

Everyday above ground is a good day.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/6/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pie (Blackberry)

Short Description

Photojournalist Chester Higgins, Jr. (1946 - ) has published his work with the New York Times and a variety of other publications. In addition to his photojournalistic activities, Higgins has published collections of his photographs in book form, and toured with several solo exhibitions of his work.

Employment

Freelance Photographer

New York Times

Favorite Color

Blue, Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:672,14:10718,177:11208,184:11698,190:15690,203:16806,228:35815,492:42020,659:42530,666:45590,726:56532,815:57172,837:57428,842:58836,877:73664,1061:79728,1112:82100,1146:84740,1220:92070,1347:94326,1359:96750,1369:97182,1407:104710,1513:105700,1531:110020,1622:112540,1676:121790,1758:129760,1856:130160,1862:132960,1912:135210,1921:151680,2168:157035,2266:167468,2388:195923,2801:198445,2844:198930,2873:199415,2880:207660,2936$0,0:3240,89:5022,123:5589,132:5994,138:12672,224:13552,238:13992,247:15928,278:25326,397:31059,499:36580,568:37237,582:37529,587:38551,613:38916,619:39427,630:41179,664:41617,671:43734,707:47384,788:47676,793:49282,837:49574,842:50085,851:51545,876:52421,889:52859,896:61198,950:61702,957:62458,967:62878,973:63886,988:65734,1015:67162,1040:68674,1069:69178,1105:71026,1125:71866,1138:78802,1213:79411,1221:82178,1260:82946,1276:84578,1297:88706,1359:91610,1368:92410,1378:93310,1389:93810,1395:95010,1415:95810,1424:99810,1442:102135,1484:102810,1494:103260,1501:105135,1549:105810,1561:106335,1568:109035,1606:109335,1611:110085,1624:114290,1636:119490,1709:121330,1750:121730,1756:124130,1839:134050,1975:135860,1998
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Chester Higgins, Jr.'s interview session 1, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Chester Higgins, Jr.'s interview session 1, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Chester Higgins, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Chester Higgins, Jr. shares a lesson he learned from artist Romare Bearden

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his maternal ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes Fairhope, Alabama and how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his step-grandfather's school in New Brockton, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his stepfather's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his step-grandfather, Warren Smith

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his step-grandmother's family

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recounts what inspired his interest in photography

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Chester Higgins describes his photographs of his aunt and uncle

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Chester Higgins, Jr. explains his great uncle's name

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recalls picking cotton as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recalls working in cotton and peanut fields

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Chester Higgins recalls his elementary school experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Chester Higgins, Jr. talks about the anthem 'Lift Every Voice and Sing'

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recalls special childhood events

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Chester Higgins describes responses to segregation in the South

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes race relations in his childhood community

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Chester Higgins describes a community leader from his childhood, Mr. Bernest Brooks

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes community leaders in New Brockton, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his call to ministry, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his call to ministry and Bible study with his step-grandfather

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recounts becoming a minister at age ten

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Chester Higgins, Jr. reflects upon being a minister as a child

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Chester Higgins, Jr. shares his spiritual philosophy, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Chester Higgins, Jr. shares his spiritual philosophy, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes writing his sermons

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Chester Higgins, Jr. talks about politics within African American churches

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes the function of religion in modern society

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s political and religious influence

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his grandfather and Warren Smith High School

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Chester Higgins, Jr. narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Chester Higgins, Jr. narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Chester Higgins, Jr.'s interview, session 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recounts meeting his mentor, P.H. Polk, pt.1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recounts meeting his mentor, P.H. Polk, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recalls his photography lessons with P.H. Polk

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his first camera

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recalls his internship at Harvard Student Agencies in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his research project at Harvard Student Agencies in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Chester Higgins describes his academic experiences at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recalls participating in student protests in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Chester Higgins, Jr. talks about the art of storytelling with photography

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recalls documenting student protests at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Chester Higgins, Jr. remembers his mentors in college

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Chester Higgins, Jr. talks about publishing his early photography and photographing women

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his experiences as a photographer in New York City

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recounts meeting Arthur Rothstein of Look magazine

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recalls learning photography techniques from Arthur Rothstein

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recounts meeting his editor, Orde Coombs

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Chester Higgins describes his book 'Black Woman'

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Chester Higgins describes his book, 'Drums of Life'

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his book 'Some Time Ago'

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recalls meeting Romare Bearden

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his process for photographing people

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Chester Higgins, Jr. remembers his friendship with Romare Bearden

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Chester Higgins, Jr. remembers Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Al Murray

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Chester Higgins recalls meeting fellow photographers in New York City

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes Cornell Capa

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Chester Higgins, Jr. talks about his commitment to his craft, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Chester Higgins, Jr. talks about his commitment to his craft, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recalls his hiring as a photographer for the New York Times

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Chester Higgins, Jr. explains his aim of portraying people positively in his photography

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recounts the lectures he gives at high schools

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Chester Higgins, Jr. talks about the African diaspora

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Chester Higgins, Jr. talks about African religions, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Chester Higgins, Jr. talks about African religions, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Chester Higgins, Jr. talks about African religions, pt. 3

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his book 'Elder Grace: The Nobility of Aging,' pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his book 'Elder Grace: The Nobility of Aging,' pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Chester Higgins, Jr. recalls the gallery exhibition for 'Elder Grace: The Nobility of Aging'

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Chester Higgins, Jr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Chester Higgins, Jr. describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Chester Higgins, Jr. explains why he does not talk about works in progress

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Chester Higgins reflects upon being interviewed by The HistoryMakers

DASession

1$2

DATape

2$7

DAStory

4$8

DATitle
Chester Higgins describes his photographs of his aunt and uncle
Chester Higgins, Jr. recalls learning photography techniques from Arthur Rothstein
Transcript
So, there was that hanging on the wall, the blue--the calendars with the blue--$$And it was Christ in Gethsemane [Garden of Gethsemane] and the biblical scripture. So, when I, when I first became aware that the camera could be used to make very positive images of black people I immediately thought back and realized that I had never seen pictures on the walls anywhere of my great aunt Shug [Higgins' paternal great aunt, Shug McGowan Lampley] or my great uncle March Fourth [McGowan]. My mother [Varidee Young Smith] had pictures, but you know she was a professional and the way the professionals like her had their picture made is for each year when the school kids had their picture made they would make pictures of the teachers and the faculty, so that's how she got her picture. And you know I always tell people you know your, your best photographs will always be of things that you know and for me what did I know about my great aunt Shug. I knew that she prayed at night, and I knew she prayed in the morning. I knew that she had a, that she had, that she would wear these aprons you know with one pocket. And back then old people with aprons you know they would, the women, the way they would hold their money as they would take a handkerchief and they would you know fold their handkerchief on a diagonal and then they would take their paper money and they tied it up on one end and they'd take their coins and they'd tie it up on the opposite and they would stick it in their apron pocket. So, these are the two things I knew about my Aunt Shug and when I went to make a picture of my Aunt Shug, I made other pictures, but I looked to make the two pictures that I knew that was her and so there's a picture of my Aunt Shug looking through outside the window at night as she's inside and she's at her bed and she's praying. And then the other picture of my Aunt Shug is her at her front fence with her checkerboards dress and her apron looking at me. You know I, I, to me my Aunt Shug was the sweetest woman that I knew as a, as a, as a pers- as a child as a person. And then my Uncle Fourth, you know, I--my uncle Fourth was, was the guy who was always a doer of things. I remember him, he was--in the summertime they would have like a little baseball team, different guys who played different bases and my Uncle Fourth was sort of like the manager of the team and he's the one who was responsible for bringing to the game the, the catcher's mitt and the covering and, and the bats and extra balls. He had this big sack and just put them all in and walk over and, so I made a couple of pictures of my aunt and Uncle Fourth that was really him, one in his garden and, and another one at home as he got older.$$So--$$But, I picked up the camera because it was a love in my heart that I wanted to because what I felt in my heart about certain subjects that I wanted to photograph, and these were those two subjects.$I realized how great a teacher this man [Arthur Rothstein] was from, you know, that very first few minutes and I wanted to work and study with him and I was in everything that I could do to go out and try to shoot. I hoped that he would have the time to look and could give me criticism and give me direction. So, I came back the next day and we went through this and I said oh my God I learned something else, let me go try this. And that's how it developed sort of within a week. I was at his office [at Look magazine] every day for the whole summer, and at, at some point in just getting you know learning basic stuff. He gave me a list of just, you know, facial expressions or things to look for. Just the vocabulary of photography and just learning all that and, and trying to take each one of those because he said to me you know when you make a picture as a good photographer you're making hundreds of decisions instantaneously. You're making decisions about content, about light, about design, about time of day, about mood, about emotions, all of those things, but the only way you can do that is you have to learn how to make each decision separately first. So, I had this list of maybe about a hundred different, imagine a hundred different possible things that a picture could have in it, and so my, during the summer my ritual of him was each day trying to produce an image that dealt with one specific visual element so that over time as you master all of those different visual elements, your mind sort of locks it in so that when you go make a picture now your mind instantaneously runs through that criteria so that over time within a few weeks I had mastered this whole list so that that became and then so what do I do. I start shooting in Harlem [New York, New York] and in Brooklyn [New York] following black people wherever I can find them in New York [New York], adding to my broad collection of black people in America, but also specifically looking at black women.

Roy Lewis

Renowned photographer and activist Roy Lewis was born on July 24, 1937 in Natchez, Mississippi. He grew up on a plantation where his father worked as a sharecropper harvesting cotton. His mother died when he was five years and old and he and was raised by his maternal grandparents. Lewis earned his high school diploma in 1956 from Sadie V. Thompson High School where he was a member of the football team and choir.

Upon graduation, he joined relatives in Chicago and landed a job in the subscription department at Johnson Publishing. In 1960, he was drafted in the United States Army and spent time at bases in Kansas, San Antonio and Houston, Texas. While a soldier, he began to develop his talent as a photographer after purchasing his first camera for just twenty-five dollars. His career as a photographer began in 1964 when Jet Magazine published his photograph of musician Thelonius Monk. In 1968, Lewis left Johnson Publishing and joined the staff at Northeastern University, filming student activities. In 1970, Lewis videotaped an exclusive interview with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, which was featured in the film A Nation of Common Sense. In 1974, Lewis, now working as a full time freelance photographer, traveled to Zaire to film the Ali-Foreman fight. This historic video would later be featured in the Hollywood film When We Were Kings, a remake of the legendary championship fight. In 1975, Lewis began work on River Road on the Mississippi, a pictorial book focusing on the African American people, life and cultural along the Mississippi River.

In 1995, Lewis published The Million Man March, a book highlighting the events of that historic day. Lewis also contributed work to the widely acclaimed 1995 photo book project, Songs of My People.

Lewis has received numerous awards for his photojournalism including, the Maurice Sorrell Lifetime Achievement Award.

Accession Number

A2004.254

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

12/9/2004

Last Name

Lewis

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Sadie V. Thomas High School

Prince Street Elementary School

St. Francis Catholic School

Brumfield High School

Search Occupation Category
Archival Photo 2
First Name

Roy

Birth City, State, Country

Natchez

HM ID

LEW06

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

New Orleans, Louisiana

Favorite Quote

What's Going On?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

7/24/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Greens

Short Description

Photojournalist Roy Lewis (1937 - ) is an award winning photographer. In 1975, Lewis began work on, "River Road on the Mississippi," a pictorial book focusing on the African American people, life and cultural along the Mississippi River. Lewis also published a photo book on The Million Man March, and contributed to the widely acclaimed, "Songs of My People."

Employment

Northeastern Illinois University

University of Notre Dame

Howard University

Johnson Publishing Company

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:960,9:1340,14:2670,24:8504,98:8880,103:9914,114:10572,120:13580,163:26864,310:35246,471:42511,628:56595,867:59485,915:59825,920:61355,940:61780,946:62205,957:74810,1109:75800,1126:77780,1168:79490,1218:84134,1246:94138,1481:100315,1573:100812,1581:115016,1708:117157,1735:117571,1742:121890,1784$0,0:1395,25:10074,145:18258,287:26505,364:26890,371:32434,475:32742,480:36361,546:38748,592:45350,664:46001,672:54464,1012:68284,1134:79960,1241:93744,1367:94325,1375:94823,1385:98143,1467:100384,1503:101795,1529:103206,1553:108520,1559:109598,1610:114400,1678:124799,1813:125214,1820:128890,1893:135282,2032:138750,2148:143034,2241:143510,2250:144870,2280:145414,2290:145958,2300:146434,2309:146842,2328:162016,2569:167080,2600:172040,2716:172360,2721:175400,2793:175720,2798:176040,2803:176680,2813:180200,2918:180520,2923:190385,3087:191060,3106:195185,3198:196160,3215:226262,3637:244600,3912:245632,3928:245976,3933:246320,3938:249320,3957
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Roy Lewis' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Roy Lewis lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Roy Lewis remembers his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Roy Lewis talks about his father, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Roy Lewis talks about his father, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Roy Lewis recalls his mother's death from tuberculosis

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Roy Lewis describes living with his maternal grandfather after his mother passed away

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Roy Lewis talks about the farm owned by his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Roy Lewis describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Roy Lewis remembers childhood holidays

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Roy Lewis lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Roy Lewis recalls his childhood neighborhood in Natchez, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Roy Lewis describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Roy Lewis talks about his experience at his childhood schools in Natchez, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Roy Lewis describes toys he made as child in Natchez, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Roy Lewis talks about visiting his father and siblings as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Roy Lewis recalls his junior high school experiences in Natchez, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 18 - Roy Lewis remembers his hobbies as a young teenager in Natchez, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 19 - Roy Lewis recalls his desire to move to Chicago, Illinois as a teenager in Natchez, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Roy Lewis remembers significant people from his junior high school years at Brumfield School in Natchez, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Roy Lewis describes the aftermath of his maternal grandparents' passing

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Roy Lewis talks about his introduction to photography at Sadie V. Thompson High School in Natchez, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Roy Lewis recalls developing an aspiration to attend college after a school trip to Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Roy Lewis remembers his graduation from Sadie V. Thompson High School in Natchez, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Roy Lewis recalls obtaining a printing position at Johnson Publishing Company in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Roy Lewis remembers Natchez, Mississippi and the South Side of Chicago, Illinois in the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Roy Lewis describes how his interests in photography developed at Johnson Publishing Company in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Roy Lewis talks about how his interest in photography grew during his U.S. Army service

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Roy Lewis remembers understanding photography as medium to effect change

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Roy Lewis recalls his freelance photography work during the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Roy Lewis describes his 1967 exhibit 'Black and Beautiful'

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Roy Lewis talks about the collaborative culture among photographers at Johnson Publishing Company in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Roy Lewis recalls the reception of his 1967 exhibit 'Black and Beautiful'

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Roy Lewis remembers his documentary photography of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Roy Lewis remembers his transition to documentary film

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Roy Lewis recalls his 1970 interview with Elijah Muhammad

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Roy Lewis recalls working at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, Illinois while developing his career in photography and film

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Roy Lewis talks about his photographic projects during the 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Roy Lewis talks about filming the 1974 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Forman in Kinshasa, Zaire

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Roy Lewis describes his photographic essay projects

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Roy Lewis talks about his photojournalistic project 'River Road'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Roy Lewis explains his photographic style and process

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Roy Lewis talks about 'Songs of My People: African Americans, A Self-Portrait'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Roy Lewis recalls photographing the 1995 Million Man March in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Roy Lewis remembers his favorite photographic work

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Roy Lewis reflects upon his life, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Roy Lewis gives advice to young people interested in photography

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Roy Lewis reflects upon his most significant influences

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Roy Lewis describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Roy Lewis reflects upon his life, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Roy Lewis describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Roy Lewis reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Roy Lewis summarizes his life's work

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

10$1

DATitle
Roy Lewis remembers understanding photography as medium to effect change
Roy Lewis talks about his photojournalistic project 'River Road'
Transcript
So after your photo was published in Jet.$$Um-hm.$$But what's that like for a photographer to get your first, you know, published photo in a major magazine at the time?$$It makes you feel good, you know? It's like, that's what it's about--$$(Simultaneous) Is it validation?$$Yeah, it's--I--yeah, it makes you feel good, but it's like that's why you're--you know--and I was selling photos, you know, and I wasn't like--you know, I mean at that point I was like--I wasn't just doing photography as a hobby; I never did really do that. Even in the [U.S. military] service I would sell pictures to the other soldiers. I mean the commerce pieces--because, you know, you have to support it and that. Later I had a family, so I had to--the photography became income, you know? I would do jobs and, you know, I set up a darkroom in my house and, you know--so that, that became another source of income, but I did--the idea that, you know--the thing about 'The Family of Man' [Edward Steichen], and then later Roy DeCarava and Langston Hughes' '[The] Sweet Flypaper [of Life].' That was like in the '50s [1950s] also. These two books, and then later 'House of Bondage,' from a guy name Ernest Cole out of South Africa. These books really, because they dealt with serious issues that related to where the photographer was and the things that he saw and what he was trying to do, so for me photography, even in the beginning, being around Ebony, watching Ebony come out every week, I mean every month, and Jet come out, Negro Digest and Tan--all these publications, they were dealing with the issues of the day, you know? It focused you around that this is a medium that you can use to affect change or affect people, and that, that has always been with me, I mean right from the start.$The project we were just talking about, 'River Road,' do you have--and I know it's still a work in progress, but thus far, is there a particular person who you--stands out the most to you, or that you remember a little bit more than others, of the folks that you've profiled?$$Yeah, Mr. White [ph.], Mr. White in that pack--you'll see a photo of him in there--Mr. White, because he was about ninety-six, ninety-seven when we photographed him, and he had lived on this land a long time, and I have a photograph of him; it's a close-up of his face that I call--well, I used to call it 'I Built This Country,' but I think I've changed it to, 'We Built this Country,' because it's sort of like a black man who was worked, and he's got the cataract eyes; you see all the creases in his skin. And then there's Martha Young [ph.] who was 106, who was referred to us by the same person, a young lady who really gave us a lot of help because, you know, out in those rural settings, you've got to have somebody that will refer you, you know, and she referred us to these two, and has been a person who has helped us a lot, and--that, and then there are other people who, you know, you photograph that--a Mr.--I can't think of his name right now, but this young man that, that was a man who went away to the war and come back and was working in one of the plants now, and then someone down in a place call Harlem [Louisiana]; it was the Harlem area, you know; that was when we first started. So it's not so much about one or two or three people, but it's really about communities that, you know, are still in existence that used to be, all intent purposes, slave communities, you know? This is these places where--areas where people--black people lived, you know, doing time they were like enslaved.$$And now enslaved in just a different way.$$Yeah (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) But then--$$--in a certain kind of way; I mean, they--you know, some of them have built new homes, and they have--still have some of the shotguns there. You have a mix of, you know, it's not just one strata, because some of these people work in Baton Rouge [Louisiana] and work in New Orleans [Louisiana] or have businesses; some of them have big houses, you know. It's not just one--that was one of the things we wanted to show was that it wasn't, it wasn't one-dimensional; I mean, it was--when you say "rural," it's not a one-dimensional piece. I mean, we--I have a photograph of a guy in this van, multi-colored van, and they said he was selling drugs out there. I mean, you know, it was like, you know, plush and, you know, you look at it, you think it's just colorful, but someone said he was selling drugs, so they have some of the same issues that's going on in the urban community. But we decided we would stay with this road because it just runs right along the side of the [Mississippi] River on both sides. It's interrupted in some places. In--[U.S. Route] 61--when it gets to Baton Rouge, it becomes 61 and goes on up to into Memphis [Tennessee], and since recently I decided maybe we're gonna just take it on to Chicago [Illinois] instead of--not a lot, but keep mostly rural but--because so many people migrated up that road as I did. I mean, I actually--me and a guy drove up that road on the way to--drove to Chicago, and--in '56 [1956], so a lot of other people did; but we want to keep the bulk of it rural and about the circumstance of the chemical plants and oil refiners [refineries] and the effects, and--it's sort of like writing a sentence to it in the center of my work in terms of the cause; I mean with photography, I mean that early '50s [1950s] stuff that I was observing and looking at, photography was always sort of centered around causes, you know; some of the early photographers--Weiss [ph.], who did the children's stuff, and then you got Edward Steichen, and all these people; photography was always a way to deal with issues and changes.

Robert Sengstacke

Photographer and heir of a distinguished African American newspaper publisher, Robert Abbott Sengstacke, popularly known as “Bobby,” was born May 29, 1943, in Chicago, Illinois. Named after the founder of the Chicago Defender, Robert Sengstacke Abbott, Bobby attended the University of Chicago Lab School, Manument boarding school in Pennsylvania and Howalton Day School in Chicago before attending Hyde Park High School. Sengstacke graduated from Central YMCA High School in 1962. Artistic and restless, he attended Florida’s Bethune Cookman College for three and a half years before returning to Chicago.

Growing up with the newspaper gave Sengstacke unique access to important events and people. Learning to shoot from Le Mont Mac Lemore, Billy Abernathy and Bob Black of the Chicago Sun-Times in the mid-1950s, Sengstacke’s thousands of black and white photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Imamu Baraka and other well-known figures, places and events were widely published. His compositions, Spiritual Grace and Saviour’s Day, are included in the “We Shall Overcome” exhibit and are from his days as staff photographer for the Nation Of Islam’s periodical, Muhammad Speaks. His work also appears in most Black Arts Movement anthologies of the 1960s and 1970s. Widely collected and archived, Sengstacke was recognized for his photography.

Sengstacke returned to the family business, joining with other family members in working with the Chicago Defender. He was active in helping to increase the circulation of the paper, which remains as one of the nation’s last African American daily newspapers.

Sengstacke was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 19, 2003.

Sengstacke passed away on March 7, 2017.

Accession Number

A2003.305

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/19/2003

Last Name

Sengstacke

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Central YMCA College

Hyde Park Academy High School

University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

St. Ambrose Elementary School

Howalton Day School

The Manumit School

Bethune-Cookman University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Robert (Bobby)

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

SEN01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

The Two Most Important Things In Life Are A Person And His Relationship With God, And The Second Is Money.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/29/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fruits and Vegetables

Death Date

3/7/2017

Short Description

Photojournalist Robert Sengstacke (1943 - 2017 ) is president of the Chicago Defender newspaper.

Employment

Chicago Defender

Favorite Color

Earth Tones

Timing Pairs
0,0:2870,8:10990,121:27362,362:27834,367:43992,571:60758,692:65114,746:67640,754:69208,765:71784,789:72680,799:84638,932:88848,948:89460,955:96090,1057:96498,1062:97008,1068:98130,1083:106156,1195:121966,1379:147586,1607:148074,1616:154406,1716:161376,1804:188182,2155:189625,2173:190069,2178:202220,2365:224256,2730:226472,2742:228136,2767:238120,2955:245071,3026:246501,3042:260808,3352:276619,3607:278438,3630:301160,3858:316993,4019:320700,4039:326110,4109:329578,4140:346470,4380:348190,4385$0,0:19162,264:23695,337:23979,342:25044,368:25967,385:27245,486:37088,572:37432,577:37776,582:38120,588:38808,598:39668,609:40356,615:54340,820:68130,1026:70503,1061:71407,1076:72424,1087:83456,1228:84008,1233:90102,1309:90971,1322:93736,1390:102316,1507:103149,1522:109580,1590:110198,1597:118704,1787:124398,2017:140020,2236:142900,2300:148602,2369:149334,2418:160422,2537:168880,2600
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert Sengstacke's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert Sengstacke lists he favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert Sengstacke talks about his mother and her family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert Sengstacke describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert Sengstacke talks about his German relatives, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert Sengstacke talks about his German relatives, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert Sengstacke explains his father's relationship to Chicago Defender founder Robert Sengstacke Abbott

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert Sengstacke talks about the family of Robert Sengstacke Abbott, founder of the Chicago Defender

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert Sengstacke shares a story about Robert Sengstacke Abbott's motivation to succeed

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert Sengstacke talks about the book, 'The Lonely Warrior: The Life and Times of Robert S. Abbott,' by Roi Ottley

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert Sengstacke describes the platforms of the Chicago Defender

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert Sengstacke describes how the Chicago Defender was distributed in the South

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert Sengstacke talks about Robert Sengstacke Abbott's relationship with orator, Roscoe Conkling Simmons

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert Sengstacke talks about other African American newspapers and the formation of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA)

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert Sengstacke describes his father's work forming Amalgamated Publishers, Inc. and the National Newspaper Publishers Association

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert Sengstacke talks about African American sports editors who discovered Jackie Robinson

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert Sengstacke talks about his father helping William L. Dawson to get elected at committeeman in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert Sengstacke describes the work his father and William L. Dawson did to sway African American voters to the Democratic Party

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert Sengstacke talks about his father and William L. Dawson helping African Americans attend President Harry S. Truman's inaugural ball

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert Sengstacke talks about his father's involvement in the integration of the U.S. Armed Forces in 1948

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert Sengstacke describes his father's role in placing advertising into African American magazines

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert Sengstacke talks about the circulation of magazines and newspapers in Chicago and the Chicago Defender's success and expansion in the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert Sengstacke talks about how his parents met

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert Sengstacke describes his mother

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert Sengstacke reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert Sengstacke talks about the Sengstacke name and becoming a well-known photographer

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert Sengstacke talks about the Rosenwald Apartments and prominent African Americans on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert Sengstacke describes growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert Sengstacke talks about going to the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools in Chicago, Illinois and Manumit School in Bristol, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert Sengstacke describes his experience at Manumit School in Bristol, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert Sengstacke talks about his lack of stimulation in school

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert Sengstacke remembers an encouraging teacher and lists the different elementary schools he attended

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robert Sengstacke describes going to Hyde Park Academy High School and Central YMCA High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert Sengstacke talks about the potential limitations of a traditional academic education and useful technological advancements

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert Sengstacke describes how he became interested in photography

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert Sengstacke remembers the theft of his artwork by a teacher at Hyde Park High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert Sengstacke describes innovative approaches to photojournalism in the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert Sengstacke talks about photographing Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert Sengstacke describes what makes his photography different from other photographers of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert Sengstacke talks about working with the Nation of Islam and their newspaper, Muhammad Speaks

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robert Sengstacke talks about his role in the Black Arts Movement

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert Sengstacke talks about photographers of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert Sengstacke talks about photographers capturing the African American renaissance

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert Sengstacke describes his most sought after photographs

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert Sengstacke describes his technical camera equipment, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert Sengstacke describes his technical camera equipment, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert Sengstacke talks about digital photography

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robert Sengstacke talks about his father's management style

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Robert Sengstacke talks about his involvement in the business side of the Chicago Defender

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Robert Sengstacke talks about the financial condition of the Chicago Defender

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Robert Sengstacke describes the challenges of newspaper circulation and appealing to younger audiences

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Robert Sengstacke describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Robert Sengstacke talks about targeting a younger audience for the Chicago Defender

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Robert Sengstacke talks about his daughter, Myiti Sengstacke Rice

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Robert Sengstacke describes the legacy of his family, the Sengstackes

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Robert Sengstacke reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Robert Sengstacke describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$5

DAStory

8$6

DATitle
Robert Sengstacke talks about the family of Robert Sengstacke Abbott, founder of the Chicago Defender
Robert Sengstacke describes what makes his photography different from other photographers of the Civil Rights Movement
Transcript
Anyway, there was a woman named, a widow woman named [Flora] Abbott. And let me go back a little bit because the Abbott family, Robert S. [Sengstacke] Abbott, the founder of the [Chicago] Defender was born on St. Simon's Island [Georgia], which is kinda in the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia, about a hundred or so miles south of Savannah [Georgia]. And they come from what you would refer, refer to as house Negroes. Mr. Abbott's father [Thomas Abbott] was a servant in, in the mansion of a plantation owner in Savannah [Georgia]. And when he, when--after the Civil War at some point--I don't know exactly why, but he distributed a lot of his riches or his holdings to some of the slaves that were on the plantation. And Mr. Abbott's father, being a, a house servant, acquired enough to actually open up a store on St. Simon's Island. So he was born in a somewhat well-to-do family after the Civil War because they had resources. His father married a woman [Flora Butler Abbott] who came from a family of beauticians after the Civil War. And they also, mainly African American beauticians, did the hair of white folks and back in that period. And so he, he married into a family that also had resources, so they weren't necessarily rich, but they, they were more well-to-do than the average African American shortly after slavery. So anyway, Mr. Abbott's father died while he was still fairly young. And this is where--now the other--oh, the other thing was he, after he died--the Abbott family, they were, I guess somewhat bougie [bourgeois], and had this superior kind of attitude, even over the mother who was a beautician and didn't have, you know, came from a family with some, some degree of resources. They were trying to take the son away from her, and this was about the time that my great-grandfather [John Herman Henry Sengstacke] arrived over here. And while he was dealing with the estate of his father [Herman Henry Sengstacke], they met. And somewhere along the line, they met, and he was able to assist her in going to court and helping her keep this child. And they, in the process, fell in love and married, okay. Then that's--from that union, my grandfather [Herman Alexander Sengstacke] was born. My father's [John H. Sengstacke] father and so, Mr. Abbott and my grandfather were half-brothers. And as I said, they were both raised in a printing family, and my father was raised in a printing and publishing family. And I am actually fifth--let's see, I think fifth generation printing, fourth generation in publishing. And they both went to Hampton [Institute, later Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia] to study printing. Of course, Mr. Abbott, as I said, he got a--went to law school, and first published--I mean, first practiced law in Gary, Indiana, and later decided to publish his--moved to Chicago [Illinois] and he published the Chicago Defender--as I'm told, to help the suffering masses of his people. And he started the Chicago Defender.$$That's in 1905, right?$$Nineteen [zer]o five [1905] and he started out with a--what I understand, a typewriter and in a woman's kitchen, whose name was Wimp [sic. Henrietta Lee]. And I don't know if you know the Wimp family (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, the Wimps in Chicago that--$$You know, opened McDonald's and so forth.$$Um-hm, right.$$That was his [Edward D. Wimp Jr.] grandmother. And she provided the first--in other words, the Defender was started in her kitchen. And he had--from what I understand, he had twenty-five cents, a typewriter. And how he was able to get it published, he sold it himself on the street. And I understand that's one of the reasons they said he had ill health was being out there in the early days, in the winter and what-not. And actually, the Defender grew into what it, you know, became. And so, on the other hand, my father, of course, he used to come up here during the summers and work with Mr. Abbott. And he studied printing, but he had a degree in business management. And he always used to say, and if there's any regret, I never asked him why, that when people would ask him questions, he would say, "Well, I never really wanted to go into the Defender business. I'm going to run the Defender, but Mr. Abbott became ill, and I was the only one in the family at that time." He was the oldest son qualified to take over.$The other thing that makes my work for the civil rights era strong is the fact that when I did cover, like Selma to Montgomery [March], and some of the other marches here in Chicago [Illinois], our family also had weekly newspapers. And a lot of the mass marches usually were held on a Saturday so people could get off, come in. And I knew that, even then, like the television would have the front line of march and the speakers, and all that on television that night. And the white newspapers would have it on the front page the next morning and Sunday papers, 'cause even back then, there was technology where photographers with the New York Times or some of the major papers would go and take a hotel room, turn it into a dark room, process right there, and could go on a telephone line, and transfer photos. So, what would--what was going to be interesting to the Sengstacke [Enterprises, Inc. later, Real Times Media LLC] newspaper readers that--of the weeklies, it came out Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. So, my work focuses a lot more on who was there, who was behind the front line, you know, [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther] King [Jr.], [Ralph] Abernathy, A. Philip Randolph, and Ralph Bunche. And so, that's why, even though the way I photographed King, I'm known as the only photographer that captured the essence of his character and personality. And these are what photo researchers say--it's not what I say. And I've heard that many, many times. But the--a lot of the popular photos I have aren't of people who were in the march. And it brings that home because most people were trying to satisfy the Sunday front page of the New York Times, the [Chicago] Tribune, the, you know (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Is it there, they were just trying to document that there was a march--$$Yeah.$$--so they want a big picture of them, of all the people? Yeah (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Right. And they wanted--the white papers wanted to go, go into the kind of stuff that I shot.$$To who the personalities are and what the--$$Yeah, and see, that's what I show. And also, people on the sidelines who aren't in the march, you know. So I caught, I caught more of the true essence because, I mean, yeah, King was there, and it would--but what about the 200,000 people, 250,000 people behind him, with 175,000 that walked behind him, see. And my work encompasses that, and that's another reason that as time goes on, it becomes more significant and valuable, you know. So, I guess that it wasn't where so much as where I shot him, but what I did when I had the opportunities--

Ernest Withers

Photojournalist Ernest C. Withers was born on August 7, 1922, in Memphis, Tennessee. Withers got his start as a military photographer while serving in the South Pacific during World War II. Upon returning to a segregated Memphis after the war, Withers chose photography as his profession.

In the 1950s, Withers helped spur the movement for equal rights with a self-published photo pamphlet on the Emmitt Till murder. Over the next two decades, Withers formed close personal relationships with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, and James Meredith. Withers's pictures of key civil rights events from the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the strike of Memphis sanitation workers are historic. Indeed, Withers was often the only photographer to record these scenes, many of which were not yet of interest to the mainstream press.

Withers photographed more than the southern Civil Rights Movement. Whether Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, and other Negro League baseball players, or those jazz and blues musicians who frequented Memphis’ Beale Street, Withers photographed the famous and not-so famous. Withers’s collection includes pictures of early performances of Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Ike and Tina Turner, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin.

In his more than sixty-year career, Withers accumulated a collection of an estimated five million photographs; his works appeared in The New York Times, Jet, Ebony, Newsweek, and Life and were featured in touring exhibits and shows around the country. For his life’s work, Withers was elected to the Black Press Hall of Fame and received an honorary doctorate from the Massachusetts College of Art.

Withers and his high school sweetheart, Dorothy Curry, raised eight children.

Ernest C. Withers passed away on Monday, October 15, 2007 at the age of eighty-five.

Accession Number

A2003.147

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/28/2003

Last Name

Withers

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

C.

Occupation
Organizations
Search Occupation Category
First Name

Ernest

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

WIT01

Favorite Season

None

Sponsor

Ray Shepard

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

8/7/1922

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Wife's Cooking

Death Date

10/15/2007

Short Description

Photojournalist Ernest Withers (1922 - 2007 ) documented the Civil Rights Movement and rising musical stars in Memphis. In his more than sixty-year career, Withers accumulated a collection of an estimated five million photographs.

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue, Gold

Timing Pairs
0,0:3432,97:7332,169:7644,174:15230,259:16378,282:17116,296:26528,399:28712,413:33184,486:34130,499:41950,566:43874,600:44910,619:46242,653:47500,675:51732,704:54625,722:54925,727:55375,734:58000,784:58300,789:58600,794:59275,804:60250,819:60625,827:61000,833:65100,861:68796,927:73284,1005:79108,1031:84256,1164:84718,1173:87240,1184:87976,1189:88528,1196:94324,1298:98367,1321:100137,1363:100668,1374:102025,1407:105706,1450:106096,1456:106564,1463:118643,1633:119148,1639:120764,1658:124097,1759:127970,1779:128960,1792:129590,1808:131750,1844:132200,1851:134990,1886:143228,1968:144432,2004:159478,2199:161774,2251:163824,2310:164152,2315:177043,2483:177707,2507:180778,2558:182189,2599:188808,2673:192820,2736:195340,2786:196250,2806:205872,2938:209626,2966:210640,2980:217256,3048:218024,3057:223954,3124:226990,3184:228462,3201:229106,3212:234260,3249$0,0:328,3:5852,86:8148,119:9952,151:10280,156:18500,277:34370,749:34790,757:40553,800:40837,805:42754,832:43464,845:43819,851:45026,871:49492,906:50841,929:51409,938:55270,992:55550,997:61084,1041:61479,1047:63849,1092:64402,1099:65429,1115:69790,1143:75978,1206:78850,1233:79762,1274:101278,1533:101887,1542:102496,1550:106818,1571:107949,1587:115502,1661:117365,1705:118331,1724:121022,1784:127662,1868:134480,1945:137360,2008:147620,2137:148208,2145:148600,2150:148992,2156:149678,2164:155595,2206:157550,2237:157890,2242:158315,2248:165234,2362:165586,2367:166906,2391:169210,2424:173028,2492:173858,2504:176768,2516:179590,2632:183180,2661
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ernest Withers interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ernest Withers's favorites with additional comments

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ernest Withers discusses a slave ancestor's murder during the Civil War

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ernest Withers describes his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ernest Withers remembers his mother and her death when he was seven years old

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ernest Withers remembers major employers in his childhood community

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ernest Withers discusses segregated hospital care in Memphis

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ernest Withers discusses his childhood recreations

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ernest Withers discusses his school life

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ernest Withers describes his parents' political affiliations

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ernest Withers describes himself as an average student

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ernest Withers names his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ernest Withers remembers influential figures from his school life

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ernest Withers discusses his early interest in photography

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ernest Withers discusses his days as a photographer in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ernest Withers discusses African American photographers in 1940s Memphis

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ernest Withers describes the camera equipment he used

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ernest Withers remembers the Emmett Till murder case

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ernest Withers discusses his experience covering the Emmett Till murder trial

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ernest Withers discusses covering the end of the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ernest Withers discusses his career in the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ernest Withers criticizes black publications' low wages

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ernest Withers remembers James Meredith's controversial attendance at the University of Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ernest Withers describes dangerous moments photographing the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ernest Withers remembers photographing famous musicians

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ernest Withers recalls his whereabouts at the time of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ernest Withers remembers the days preceding Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ernest Withers recalls the aftermath of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ernest Withers recalls Memphis funeral home viewing after Dr. King's assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ernest Withers discusses the origins of the National Civil Rights Museum

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ernest Withers discusses events in Memphis, Tennessee's history

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ernest Withers remembers his time as a Memphis, Tennessee police officer

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ernest Withers reflects upon his achievements

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ernest Withers considers his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ernest Withers considers how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Photo - Ernest Withers's son, Clarence Earl, with Jimmy Carter, ca. 1977-1981

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Photo - Ernest Withers with his parents and adult siblings

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Photo - Ernest Withers's photograph of B.B. King and Sunbeam Mitchell

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Photo - Ernest Withers's photograph of Elvis Presley and B.B. King at the Goodwill Revue, WDIA, Memphis radio station event, 1956

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Photo - Ernest Withers with his cameras, ca. 1955-1965

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Photo - Ernest Withers's wife and daughter at a sanitation workers' strike in Memphis, Tennessee, 1968

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Photo - Ernest Withers with his wife and children outside of their Memphis, Tennessee home

Tape: 4 Story: 15 - Photo - Ernest Withers with his brothers and their father, Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 16 - Photo - Ernest Withers with his wife Dorothy at their fifty-ninth anniversary, ca. 1990s

Tape: 4 Story: 17 - Photo - Ernest Withers's sons with Elvis Presley, ca. 1955-1960

Tape: 4 Story: 18 - Photo - Ernest Withers in the early 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 19 - Photo - Ernest Withers with a camera, ca. 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 20 - Photo - Ernest Withers's son, Darryl, at a grave site

Tape: 4 Story: 21 - Photo - Ernest Withers with an unidentified man at a Northern Trust Bank event, ca. 2000

Tape: 4 Story: 22 - Photo - Ernest Withers speaks at a jazz event in Chicago, ca. 1990s

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

5$4

DATitle
Ernest Withers discusses African American photographers in 1940s Memphis
Ernest Withers remembers James Meredith's controversial attendance at the University of Mississippi
Transcript
What happened next after you got out of the service? What happened?$$Oh, when I come out of the service, my brother came out of the service. And I, knowing that I had made money as a picture taker in the [U.S.] Army, and I thought that I had enough skills, that I could open up a studio in our neighborhood. And we got the GI Bill of Right[s] and a government loan, and we bought a double-tenant house, we two brothers. He had one side. I had the other. And we put a photographic studio in my neighborhood [north Memphis, Tennessee]. And the Negro newspapers needed and did not get the use of wire services, and when you knew anything the [U.S.] Supreme Court--see, I came out in '46 [1946]. And then in 1954, and even before that, there were, there were lynchings and things that were happening throughout the South. There were a lot of philanthropic newspaper. There was, see the 'Chicago Defender' [newspaper] was noted as the' Defender.' What was it the defender of? The defender of Negro rights, which is 'Chicago Defender.' Before the 'Chicago Defender'--which I didn't work for nobody but the 'Chicago Defender' and the 'Memphis World.' --they were two newspapers that needed pictures to go in their newspaper. And myself and Earl Williams and--it wasn't nobody buying cameras like they do now. You look at the paper every week in the Negro newspaper, they got a courtesy picture that somebody took a--bought a camera, a little paper camera from Walgreen's or from the drugstores and took pictures at a church and carried and give it, and it's an interesting picture, and it becomes--but back in that time, the white newspapers had the service of UPI [United Press International], AP [the Associated Press] and a number of wire services that was processing pictures and getting them to them, where Negro newspapers didn't have a source of, of news pictures unless they had their own photographer. And myself and Earl Williams, there was--like I said, in Memphis, you had older men that didn't go to the Army that worked for the older photographers of Memphis. There was a Clarence Blakely who worked for Poland Photographers [studio in Memphis]. There was a [Robert 'R.A.'] Coleman who worked for Jaffe [Studio]. There was a John Nevels who worked for [John Calvin 'J.C.'] Coovert, a very outstanding photographer. And--.$$You said the Hooks family--.$$Well they [Hooks Brothers Photography] were the, the multiple greatest [African American] photographic business [in Memphis]. Like in every principal city, there were top Negro photographers. Okay, and--. There was a family in Washington, D.C., I can't think of it, you know, the thirst for knowledge, but the Hooks Brothers had a slogan that "Beauty we take it, no beauty we make it." But in the early legacy of the Hooks family, in the early legacy of the Hooks family, Robert Hooks and Henry Hooks were two brothers. And they opened up a photographic studio. And all of this is history. And after a given amount of years and their children grew up, the Hooks Brothers divided. And Henry Hooks of the-- of Henry Hook, Sr., had his own studio and [Charles] Charlie Hooks and, and the other Hooks brother had work with their father and had their separate studio.$If there were things that you--I mean, were there things that impressed you or things that you saw that, that you felt really privileged to see at the time because of your status as a photographer, being on the scene?$$Well, I mean there was courage by me and by Mr. [L. Alex] Wilson [editor of Tri-State Defender, Memphis, Tennessee] and by writers. And I was the one--two person when James Meredith went to school at Ole Miss [University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi. This was one of several unsuccessful attempts in which Meredith and attorneys with a small group of federal marshals were turned away by Mississippi state troopers.]. Well, James Meredith was represented by attorney [Archie Walter] A. W. Willis in Memphis, but when he came to town, Larry Steele and myself got him, and took care of him and socialized with him the night before he was to be admitted at Ole Miss. The next--we dropped him off at his cousin's house in Cascilla [Mississippi] and picked him up the next morning and delivered him to A. W. Willis's house where Marshal [James] McShane and a force of United States marshals picked him up and drove him down to the University of Mississippi. Larry Steele and myself followed the marshals, but when we got to Highway 6, it turn off of Highway 51 going east, McShane or someone must have told the Mississippi Highway Patrol that we were following them. And so they come out and told us, "Don't be following, just stop and don't follow us." So when they loaded up again at the Highway 6 and 51 from the Highway Patrol station to be escorted to the front of Ole Miss where he was first denied--you know, we followed--after they pulled off again. We wasn't--we had a right to go up the highway, and that's what we did. But when we got up to the college, they didn't let us in. So we couldn't get in by no credentials. But then when they did not admit him, they shipped his body--I mean (laughs), not his body, but they sent him back to Memphis [Tennessee]. And they took him to Millington [Tennessee] where we learned through communication with him where he was, and we went to Millington. And then we went down, came to Memphis and was journeying to Mississippi when all the gunfire was--that took place when he was [air] lifted into Ole Miss early in the morning [of September 30, 1962], late at night. And then the next morning, we were in the Lyceum [administration] building when all of that shooting went on down there. And they confiscated hundreds of rifles, but nobody was killed [although many were wounded, including twenty-eight marshals who were shot]. It was just a lot of gunfire and fearless tactics.