Black Lives 1900
Published to coincide with a major exhibition at the House of Illustration.
At the 1900 Paris Exposition the pioneering sociologist and activist W. E. B. Du Bois presented an exhibit representing the progress of African Americans since the abolition of slavery. In striking graphic visualisations and photographs he showed the changing status of a newly emancipated people across America and more specifically in Georgia, the state with the largest black population. The hand-drawn charts, maps and graphs represented their achievements and economic conditions in radically inventive forms, long before such ‘data visualisation’ was commonly used in social research.
The photographs in ‘The American Negro Exhibit’ were drawn from African American communities across the United States. Both the photographers and subjects are mostly anonymous. They show people engaged in various occupations, in study and training, and posing formally for group and studio portraits. Elegant and dignified, they refute the degrading stereotypes of black people that were prevalent in white America. They also stood as a riposte to the racist representation of Africans at the Exposition Universelle, where ‘human zoos’ presented them as primitive beings leading a timeless existence outside of history.
W. E. B. Du Bois became the most influential black civil rights activist of the first half of the twentieth century. His exhibit at the Paris Exposition continues to resonate as a powerful affirmation of the equal rights of black Americans to lives of freedom and fulfilment. This beautifully designed album reproduces the photographs alongside the revolutionary graphic works for the first time, and includes a marvellous essay by two celebrated art historians, Jacqueline Francis and Stephen G. Hall.
|Author||W.E.B du Bois intro.by Jacqueline Francis & Stephen G Hall|
|Date Published||31st October 2019|