Vivid photos capture everyday life of Chicago's African-American community in the 1970s


These photos show Chicago's African-American community, primarily on the South Side, and photographer John H. White, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Photojournalism in 1982.

His portraits of everyday life stand the test of time, inviting viewers to travel back a few decades, and see how we lived.

In the 1970s, White was hired by the Environmental Protection Agency to document the lives of black residents of Chicago. For years, White explored the city, creating intimate and powerful photographs of neighbors and strangers, capturing Chicagoans in a state of joy, sorrow, reverence, and celebration.

As White recently reflected, he saw his act as "an opportunity to capture history, a piece of life."

His photographs portray the difficult situations faced by many African American residents of Chicago in the early 1970s, but they also capture the "spirit, love, enthusiasm, pride, and hopes of the community."

White was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Photojournalism in 1982 for "consistently outstanding work on a variety of subjects". He was chosen as a photographer for the 1990 project Songs of My People.

White has also won three National Headliner Awards, was the first photographer inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame, was awarded the Chicago Press Photographers Association's Photographer of the Year award five times, and, in 1999, the Chicago Medal of Merit. Received.

Hal Buell, former head of the Associated Press Photography Service, said White is one of the best photographers ever to capture everyday vignettes.

White has said that he lives by three words: faith, meditation, flight. "I'm loyal to my purpose, my mission, my work, my work, my dreams. I focus on what I'm doing and what's important. And I keep flying—I do it by spreading my wings "

Chicago's black population developed a class structure, consisting of large numbers of domestic workers and other manual laborers, along with a small, but growing, contingent of middle- and upper-class business and professional elites.

In 1929, black Chicagoans gained access to city jobs and expanded their professional class. Fighting job discrimination for African Americans in Chicago was an ongoing battle, as foremen in various companies restricted the advancement of black workers, often preventing them from earning higher wages. In the middle of the 20th century, blacks gradually began to move to better positions in the workforce.

Chicago's Black Belt was an area that stretched 30 blocks along State Street to the south and was rarely more than seven blocks wide.

With such a large population in this limited area, many families often lived in old and dilapidated buildings due to overcrowding.

The "Black Belt" of the South Side also included areas related to economic status. The poorest residents lived in the northernmost, oldest part of the Black Belt, while the elite lived in the southernmost.

In the mid-20th century, as African Americans across the United States struggled against the economic limitations created by segregation, black residents within the Black Belt sought to create more economic opportunity in their community through the encouragement of local black businesses and entrepreneurs. demanded.

At that time, Chicago was the capital of Black America. Many African Americans who moved to the Black Belt area of ​​Chicago were from the Southeastern region of the United States.

Migration expanded the market for African-American businesses. "The most remarkable success in the black business came in the insurance sector."

Four major insurance companies were established in Chicago. Then, in the early 20th century, service establishments took over.

The African-American market on State Street during this time included a barbershop, restaurant, pool room, salon, and beauty salon.

African Americans used these trades to build their communities. These shops gave blacks the opportunity to establish their own families, earn money, and be an active part of the community.

1 comment:

  1. The White dude rowing in the boat is gettin' the hell outta that Jheri curl oil slick.


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