Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story

Exhibition at Heinz Galleries, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, through April 7; web.cmoa.org/?page_id=327

As a main photographer from 1936 to 1975 for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of America’s leading black newspapers during the Jim Crow and civil rights eras, Harris focused his sharp eye and cultural awareness on the pulsating life of large and diverse African-American communities. The dapper lensman shot high personages and the lowly without distinguishing between them: Lena Horne and Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King Jr. hang cheek by jowl with shopkeepers and residents doing their daily things, as a commissioned jazz soundtrack purls in the background. Distilled during 10 years of research into Harris’ 80,000-item archive, this exhibit serves up a remarkable look into the Other America most white contemporaries never saw.


Originally published in the April 2012 issue of American History. To subscribe, click here.