Friday, February 24, 2012

Let the Subjects Speak for Themselves

I came across this website, called DuSable to Obama: Chicago’s Black Metropolis, which is very applicable to today's material and discussion, not to mention a lot of fun to browse through:,3

The website depicts the evolution of the African-American community in Chicago from its first black founder Jean Baptiste DuSable (If you check out this page on the site with information of DuSable,,4,3,2, you can watch a video of Leorne Bennett, who says that that “the biggest secret in the history of Chicago is that Chicago was founded by a black man”) Leorne is one of several African-American figures on the webpage who gives first-hand accounts of the community in Chicago. Thus, similar to the conclusions made after reading Miles and Wu, the site keenly acknowledges that the voices and of individual stories are crucial in understanding the intricacies of history.

Robert Sengstacke, a Chicago Defender photographer, also stresses the importance of capturing individuals “as they are” in his photojournalist work. Check out his video clip on the bottom of the home page to get an idea of how he captured and promoted the African-American community as “joyful” and “peaceful yet strong” in contrast to the sort of “anthropological examinations” or white depictions that focused more on weakness.

Here’s a link to Sengstacke’s website that gives access to his photo galleries:

On this site, Steenberg writes, “Some people write history with a pen. Bobby writes it with a camera” and notes the photographer’s mission “to confront America with its self deceptions about his people”. In this way, Sengstacke truly utilizes James Gregory’s notion that journalism and photography are not merely artifacts but factors in history.

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