Saturday, 9 April 2016

Narrative images: Behind the scenes, a Harlem legend

During "Black History Month", The New York Times started the series "Unpublished Black History" revealing moments in black history with unpublished photographs from their archives. The oldest one in their series is "Behind the Scenes, a Harlem Legend" from 1946.

"A girl skips rope amid a crowd of children on a lazy summer afternoon. But what is most striking is the woman who was not captured by the camera’s lens."

"That woman was Zora Neale Hurston, the novelist and folklorist known as the Queen of the Harlem Renaissance, and she was helping to organize outdoor activities for the children. She had joined forces with a group of women who were trying to combat juvenile delinquency in the community, showing the world that black people were willing and able “to do things for themselves,” she said."

"This photograph never appeared in the newspaper; it was shot for an article about the program in Harlem and Ms. Hurston that ran on Page 14 without an image. But in the faces of those children, Ms. Hurston may well have seen something of herself." The New York Times

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) was an anthropologist, folklorist, short story writer and novelist closely associated with the Harlem Renaissance.
"Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It's beyond me."  Zora Neale Hurston
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photograph (Fred Sass/The New York Times) and information (Swarns, Eveleigh & Cave) via The New York Times