The glory days of the Black press are being reawakened in a new project that aims to digitize decades of photos from legacy Black newspapers for today’s masses.
The curators behind The Obsidian Collection Archives are digitally archiving photos from The Chicago Defender, Baltimore Afro American and other historically Black newspapers in the United States. The project is in collaboration with Google Arts and Culture to create digital exhibits that are also free to the public, Chicago Magazine reports.
So far, eight digital exhibits are currently online, from images of famed boxer Joe Louis at home in Chicago to coverage of a 1959 housewares show that showcases how the Black middle class lived in that era.
“More than just digitizing it for researchers, I’m passionate about the next generation seeing how awesome we are and in changing the narrative permeating the American conversation right now about African-Americans,” says Angela Ford, who is helming the project, to Chicago Magazine. Ford founded the Obsidian Collection to support and service African-American legacy newspapers and community archives. The goal was to create the mediums and pathways to bring millions of images to millions of people.
“What happens is a lot of these archive collections speak in an echo chamber of libraries and archives where it just doesn’t get out to the laypeople. What I love about Google Arts and Culture is you could be standing in line at the grocery store and viewing our archives. We’ll keep rotating them in and out and keep pushing them through social media. We want everyone to see us.”
You can view the available digital exhibits here.