Foundation Consortium Acquires Historic African American Photographic Archive

Ebony Magazine Vol. 24 No. 10
Photo Credit: Johnson Publishing Company

A consortium of foundations – the Ford Foundation, The J. Paul Getty Trust, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation – acquired the archive of Johnson Publishing Company (JPC), publisher of the iconic Ebony and Jet magazines this past Thursday. The acquisition is pending court approval and the closing of the sale.

The archive includes more than four million prints and negatives comprising the most significant collection of photographs cataloguing African American life in the 20th century. The archive was acquired for $30 million as part of an auction of the assets of JPC in connection with its Chapter Seven bankruptcy filing.

The foundation consortium will donate the archives to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Getty Research Institute, and other leading cultural institutions for the public benefit to ensure the broadest access for the general public and use by scholars, researchers, journalists . . . and poets and writers like us. 

Speaking after the sale, Ford Foundation president Darren Walker said,

“We’re thrilled with the outcome. This archive is a national treasure and one of tremendous importance to the telling of black history in America. We felt it was imperative to preserve these images, to give them the exposure they deserve and make them readily available to the public.”

James Cuno, president of The J. Paul Getty Trust noted,

“There is no greater repository of the history of the modern African-American experience than this archive. Saving it and making it available to the public is a great honor and a grave responsibility.”


The November 2005 60th anniversary cover featuring actors Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, and Jamie Foxx / shared here under Fair Use

The sale of the archive is a coda to the story of a company of great significance to the African American community. Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Mellon Foundation, added that the partnership to preserve and make publicly available this profound collection of African American history and culture represented a tremendous opportunity. “The preservation and accessibility of this singular and remarkable photographic archive exemplifies Mellon’s values and is of immeasurable service to picturing the vast and varied range of African American life,” said Alexander.

“This iconic and unique collection will stand the test of time, documenting an essential part of American history over an extraordinary period. We are pleased to collaborate to acquire the archive and to preserve it for the benefit of scholars, the public, and future generations forever,” said MacArthur president Julia Stasch.

“The MacArthur Foundation and JPC share a common home town in Chicago and a commitment to preserving and sharing the rich breadth and complete history of the African American narrative,” said John Palfrey, MacArthur’s incoming president.

Jet Magazine Cover 1952

The archive offers a remarkable insight into everyday of life in Black America – up-close and personal pictures of artists, celebrities and leaders which provided much needed representation in the media. The historic images also capture moments of grief and horror like the mutilated body of Emmett Till in his coffin and Coretta Scott King at her husband’s funeral.

The consortium will transfer the archive to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Getty Research Institute, pending final disposition.

“The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is proud to collaborate with the consortium and the Getty Research Institute on this important endeavor to preserve and share the richness of these iconic publications,” said Lonnie Bunch, the founding director of the museum and Secretary of the Smithsonian. “Ebony and Jet magazine helped shape our nation’s history, allowing Americans — of all colors — to see the full panorama of the African American experience. Together, our organizations will ensure these images, stories and the history of these publications are well-preserved and available to the public and future generations.”

In Los Angeles, Mary Miller, director of the Getty Research Institute, which houses one of the largest public libraries of art archives in the world, said, “It’s a privilege for the Getty Research Institute to participate in making the archive accessible to scholars everywhere, and to have the opportunity to work with other institutions, particularly the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, to secure and share this central American narrative. Perhaps the greatest archive of African American life and culture, the Johnson Publishing archive is a unique resource for the interdisciplinary work that grows from visual inquiry at the heart of research at GRI.”


ABOUT

Recent in digital publications: 
* Four poemsI Am Not a Silent Poet
* Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019
* From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems)(July 2019)
* Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review (July 2019)
Upcoming in digital publications:
* The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice (August 2019)

A busy though bed-bound poet, writer, former columnist and the former associate editor of a regional employment newspaper, my work has been featured widely in print and digital publications including: Levure littéraireRamingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature, HerStry, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander CoveI Am Not a Silent Poet, Meta/ Phor(e) /Play, Woven Tale PressThe Compass Rose and California Woman.

I run The Poet by Day, a curated info hub for poets and writers. I founded The Bardo Group/Beguines, a virtual literary community and publisher of The BeZine of which I am the founding and managing editor. Among others, I’ve been featured on The MethoBlog, on the Plumb Tree’s Wednesday Poet’s Corner, and several times as Second Light Live featured poet.

Email me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions or commissions.

National Museum of the American Indian Recognizes the International Year of Indigenous Languages and Stories of Women

Adeana Young plays Hlaaya in Gwaai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown’s Film Sgaawaay K’uuna/Edge of the Knife. Photo credit Niijang Xyaalas Productions. Copyright Isuma Distribution International. / courtesy of and copyright of Smithsonian

“There’s no longer a need to make films with the intention of creating work that’s palatable to the mainstream; audiences are meeting the filmmakers where they are, and the Native Cinema Showcase is the museum’s way of supporting this effort.” Kevin Grover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian.



The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian presents the 19th annual Native Cinema Showcase in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Aug. 13–18. In this year’s installment, nearly all of the films were made by Native filmmakers; more than half were made by women, including the opening and closing films. This year’s event includes 53 films from 11 countries, representing nearly 40 Indigenous groups.

If you are reading this post from an email subscription, you’re likely have to link to the site to view this The Edge of Knife film trailer.

In an affirmation of the power of self-representation, and in recognition of the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the lineup includes films such as SGaawaay K’uuna (Edge of the Knife), the first feature-length film to be spoken entirely in the Haida language, and Wiñaypacha (Eternity), the first feature-length film shot entirely in the Aymara language. The showcase includes dialogue and narration in 20 Indigenous languages.

“More and more, Native filmmakers are able to use their medium to assert Indigenous identities on their own terms,” said Kevin Gover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian. “There’s no longer a need to make films with the intention of creating work that’s palatable to the mainstream; audiences are meeting the filmmakers where they are, and the Native Cinema Showcase is the museum’s way of supporting this effort.”

The showcase begins and ends with portraits of strong women. Tuesday evening’s feature film, Warrior Women, shows the role of women in the American Indian Movement of the 1970s from a female perspective. The closing film, Vai, incorporates languages of Oceania as it follows the journey of one woman across eight Indigenous communities throughout the Pacific Islands. Saturday’s family-friendly feature, Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet, brings together Disney princesses including Pocahontas as they question the stereotypical roles they fell into during past film appearances.

The showcase runs in conjunction with the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts Santa Fe Indian Market, the largest juried show of Native fine art in the world. The majority of the films will be screened at the New Mexico History Museum, and Ralph Breaks the Internet will screen outdoors at the Santa Fe Railyard Park. All screenings are free, and seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Other highlights include an appearance by Pulitzer prize-winning writer N. Scott Momaday (Kiowa), who will make remarks before the screening of the biographical film N. Scott Momaday: Words From a Bear Thursday, Aug. 15, at 7 p.m. A “State of the Arts” talk is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 16, at 3 p.m. and will feature Tlingit glass artist Preston Singletary.



N. Scott Momaday (left) receiving the National Medal of Arts from U.S. president George W. Bush in 2007 /photo courtesy of the National Endowment for the Arts / Public Domain

Navarre Scott Momaday (born February 27, 1934) is a Kiowa novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. His novel House Made of Dawn was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969, and is considered the first major work of the Native American Renaissance. His follow-up work The Way to Rainy Mountain blended folklore with memoir. Momaday received the National Medal of Arts in 2007 for his work’s celebration and preservation of indigenous oral and art tradition. He holds twenty honorary degrees from colleges and universities, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

“You see, I am alive, I am alive
I stand in good relation to the Gods
I stand in good relation to the earth
I stand in good relation to everything that is beautiful…
You see, I am alive, I am alive”

Navarre Scott Momaday, excerpt from The Delight Song of Tsoai-Talee



Showcase Schedule

Tuesday, Aug. 13

7 p.m.: Warrior Women (USA, 2018, 64 min.)

Followed by a discussion with activist Marcella Gilbert (Lakota and Dakota /Cheyenne River Lakota Nation) and directors Christina D. King (Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma) and Elizabeth A. Castle.

Wednesday, Aug. 14

1 p.m.: Wiñaypacha (Eternity) (Peru, 2017, 87 min.)

3 p.m.: The Blessing (USA, 2018, 74 min.)

Followed by a discussion with directors Hunter Robert Baker and Jordan Fein and producer Laura Ball.

7 p.m.: Falls Around Her (Canada, 2018, 98 min.)

Thursday, Aug. 15

1 p.m.: Angelique’s Isle (Canada, 2018, 90min.) preceded by Ara Marumaru (The Shadow) (New Zealand, 2018, 8 min.)

3 p.m.: “The Land Speaks” shorts program (86 min. total)

Seven short films emphasize Native knowledge of the environment and the look into its future.

7 p.m.: N. Scott Momaday: Words From a Bear (USA, 2018, 85 min.)

Friday, Aug. 16

1 p.m.: “Future Focused” shorts program (55 min. total)

This program features films that present innovative stories from First Nations and U.S. Native communities.

3 p.m.: “State of the Art” conversation with Preston Singletary

7 p.m.: SGaawaay K’uuna (Edge of the Knife) (Canada, 2018, 100 min.) preceded by Mahiganiec

(Baby Wolf) (Canada, 2017, 5 min.)

Followed by a discussion with filmmaker Gwaai Edenshaw (Haida) and musician and composer Kinnie Starr (Mohawk)

Saturday, Aug. 17

1 p.m.: Lensic Future Voices (90 min. total)

This program includes a selection of films by student filmmakers. Presented in collaboration with Lensic Performing Arts Center and Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. Introduced by Marcella Ernest (Bad River Band of Chippewa), Project Director, Lensic Future Voices.

3 p.m.: Our Stories Shorts (86 min. total)

This program reflects the best of Native storytelling as told through family history, language and tradition, often with a dose of Native humor.

8 p.m.: Ralph Breaks the Internet, screened outdoors at the Santa Fe Railyard Park Screen.

Sunday, Aug. 18

1 p.m.: Rise Above Shorts (86 min. total)

The realities of rising above adversity, loving oneself and the journey of learning life’s lessons is the focus of this program.

3 p.m: Vai (New Zealand, 2018, 90 min.) preceded by Katatjatuuk Kangirsumi/Throat Singing in  

Kangirsuk (Canada, 2018, 3 min.) and Pire (Argentina, 2018, 3 min.)

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian

In partnership with Native peoples and their allies, the National Museum of the American Indian fosters a richer shared human experience through a more informed understanding of Native peoples. The museum strives toward equity and social justice for the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere through education, inspiration and empowerment. Through two locations, it features exhibitions and programs in New York City and the National Mall in Washington, D.C. For additional information, including hours and directions, visit AmericanIndian.si.edu. Follow the museum via social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where additional information will be available at #NativeCinemaShowcase.

About the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts

SWAIA’s (http://swaia.org/) mission is to bring Native arts to the world by inspiring artistic excellence, fostering education and creating meaningful partnerships. The 98th annual Santa Fe Indian Market will display the work of more than 1,100 artists from 100 tribes in more than 1,000 booths over a two-day period.

About the New Mexico History Museum

Opened in May 2009 as the state system’s newest museum, the New Mexico History Museum is attached to the Palace of the Governors National Historic Landmark, a distinctive emblem of U.S. history and the original seat of New Mexico government. The museum presents exhibitions and public programs that interpret historical events and reflect on the wide range of New Mexico historical experiences. It is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and is located at 113 Lincoln Ave. in Santa Fe.

The content of this post is courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, The Southwestern Association of Indian Arts, the New Mexico History Museum, the National Endowment for the Arts, imbd and Wikipedia.


ABOUT

Recent in digital publications: 
* Four poemsI Am Not a Silent Poet
* From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems)(July 2019)
* Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review (July 2019)
Upcoming in digital publications:
* The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice (August 2019)

A busy though bed-bound poet, writer, former columnist and the former associate editor of a regional employment newspaper, my work has been featured widely in print and digital publications including: Levure littéraireRamingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature, HerStry, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander CoveI Am Not a Silent Poet, Meta/ Phor(e) /Play, Woven Tale PressThe Compass Rose and California Woman. I run The Poet by Day, a curated info hub for poets and writers. I founded The Bardo Group/Beguines, a virtual literary community and publisher of The BeZine of which I am the founding and managing editor. Among others, I’ve been featured on The MethoBlog, on the Plumb Tree’s Wednesday Poet’s Corner, and several times as Second Light Live featured poet.

Email me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, reprint rights, or comissions.


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

I, too, sing America … Langston Hughes poem at the opening of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of African American History and Culture, opens September 24, 2016

National Museum of African American History and Culture.  Opens September 24, 2016

AMERICAN POETRY: Langston Hughes’ I, too, sing America will be used in the opening ceremonies on Saturday for the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian in DC.

The poem predates the Civil Rights Movement by about ten years:

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–

I, too, am America.

– Langston Hughes

The website with details on the grand opening is HERE.

The photograph is by Fuzheado under CC BY-SA 4.0 license