By Clarissa Richee
Photographs from that EBR African American Cultural Life Digital Collection that have caught my attention show a myriad of black artists, actors, and writers interacting with various groups of African Americans by attending writer’s conferences, speaking at schools, or participating in local festivals and events. What struck me was the ways that these accomplished blacks were pictured, not as celebrities, but as ordinary people, getting involved and looking to make a difference.
For many college students, the idea of a modern black community is tenuous at best. Many feel that in this day and age, notions of a unified African American society, along with the strength of black-centered movements, is a thing of the past, and I believe it is something many people miss. For many young people, the idea that black people are on their own, and there appears to be little camaraderie or fellowship.
The Redmond photos, however, contradict that type of thinking. One photo depicts author, Raymond Patterson, teaching and interacting amiably with a group of college students. Another shows Danny Glover standing with a group of administrators from the East St. Louis board of education. Yet another shows Terry McMillan and Elizabeth Nunez talking together at a Midwest Black Writers and Thinkers Symposium.
It is precisely because of the fame and prominence of these individuals that the moments depicted in the snapshots resonate so strongly. It is inspiring to see the sense of community in the images and to see that so many accomplished figures aren’t living in a world so far away. It really means something that they are sharing their success and encouraging others to see that similar achievements are not out of reach.
Related: The EBR Digital Collection