Tag Archives: African American

Group Portrait at the Abyssinian Baptist Church, Harlem

Although this photo was taken in Harlem in the 1950s, for a London reader it evoked memories of her Jamaican born grandmother. “Their tailored suits reminded me of how my grandmother, a Jamaican woman who moved to London in the … Continue reading

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A Fashion Controversy—What to Send to Russia

In 1959, the United States staged a big exhibit in Moscow designed to publicize the American way of life. It was the setting for the famous “kitchen debate” between Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev, where they argued about the merits … Continue reading

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Trying on Hats in Bronzeville, 1941

This evocative photo, captioned “Buying hats in a ten cent store which caters to Negroes,” is included in the volume Bronzeville: Black Chicago in Pictures, 1941-43 (2003). The book matches photos taken by photographers working for the federal government with … Continue reading

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Book Review–A True Likeness: The Black South of Richard Samuel Roberts, 1920-1936

Have you ever stopped to wonder how many photographic records of the past have been lost or destroyed? This book, edited by Thomas L. Johnson and Phillip C. Dunn, is the result of an almost miraculous reclamation. Thousands of glass … Continue reading

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B. Smith’s Patterns for Vogue

In 2001, Vogue Patterns launched a line featuring the well known African American restaurateur, home wares designer, and media personality B. Smith. The magazine article in Vogue Patterns, “B. Smith—Sewing with Style,” explains how the collaboration came about. According to … Continue reading

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Two Elderly African American Women, St. Augustine Florida

This beautiful photo comes from the Richard Twine collection, available at the extraordinary site, Florida Memory. Twine was an African American photographer who documented the St. Augustine neighborhood of Lincolnville, the center of black life in the city in the … Continue reading

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Madam C. J. Walker’s Empire of Hair

Sarah Breedlove, the woman who became Madam C. J. Walker (1867-1919), was born in poverty in the rural South.  Working her way up from washerwoman, she became one the most successful entrepreneurs of the early twentieth century. She did it … Continue reading

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Rosa Parks–A Lady and a Rebel

The common school book story of Rosa Parks (1913-2005) is incorrect. She was not an unassuming, weary seamstress who one day got mad and refused to move to the back of the bus. Instead, she was a longtime activist in … Continue reading

Posted in 1960s, 1970s, 1980s | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Madame Willi Posey

Willi Posey Jones Morrison (1907-1981), mother of the author and artist Faith Ringgold, was a late starter in the fashion business. After raising two daughters and working for a children’s garment manufacturer, she decided to become a fashion designer in … Continue reading

Posted in 1950s, 1960s, 1970s | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Dress and Culture in the Great Migration

In her sweeping study of the migration of African Americans from the South to the North, The Warmth of Other Suns, author Isabel Wilkerson compares the experience of black migrants from the rural South to that of immigrants from foreign … Continue reading

Posted in 1900s, 1910s | Tagged , | 2 Comments