By Cindy Lyles
One particular photo from the EBR African American Cultural Life Digital Collection shows Redmond and Katherine Dunham seated side-by-side engaging in conversation. The caption explains that others are in Redmond and Dunham’s presence only they are not photographed, thus highlighting the two prominent East St. Louisians.
When coming to terms with the artistic and intellectual legacy of East St. Louis, Redmond and Dunham are two essential figures on account of their literary, cultural, and activist works that have influenced many. In an age when the city’s tarnished reputation to the broader public overshadows some of its positive attributes, it is easy to forget the city's important intellectual and artistic traditions. The snapshot of Redmond and Dunham is a reminder of that rich heritage.
A common sentiment among youth I volunteer in East St. Louis is that the city does not produce people of prominence. Much like Nathanael in the biblical gospels inquiring about Nazareth, the youth ask, “Can anything good come from here?” I, like Philip responding to Nathanael, say to them, “Come and see.” This Redmond and Dunham photo is an invitation to come and see the good coming from East St. Louis.
The EBR Digital Collection makes aspects of East St. Louis's intellectual and cultural more apparent to large numbers of people.
Related: The EBR Digital Collection
I really appreciate this observation, Cindy. In conversations with Reginald Petty and others from ESL, I've heard concerns that the "younger generation" doesn't know about the city's history. One of my hopes for the digital collection is that it can help with that.
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