About 200 images and articles from historical black newspapers are free for public viewing thanks to a partnership between Google and a local nonprofit. The Obsidian Collection Archives work with various historical black media, like The Chicago Defender, to preserve and digitize their articles and images. It recently teamed up with Google’s Arts and Culture platform to make the archived media easily accessible on the web.
Below are five photographs selected by Angela Ford, the executive director of the Obsidian Collection Archives, that she finds personally significant.
Click the “play” button above to listen to Ford and ‘Chicago’ magazine contributor Adrienne Samuels Gibb discuss the collection on ‘Morning Shift.’
1. ‘Caring about the community’
Angela Ford: This photo inspires me as I want our youth to know that our greatest boxer of yesteryear cared about the community and had his own small businesses. His reinvestment in the community created jobs. And I used to drink Joe Louis Milk.
2. Getting cropped doesn’t mean you’re cut out of the history books
Ford: This photo allows me to remind young people that success doesn’t happen overnight. Work hard and be optimistic. You can be cropped from a photo one day and then rise to become the first African-American woman in the U.S. Senate.
3. Summertime adventures
Ford: This photo reminds me of the #BlackBoyJoy I witness every day of my life in black Chicago. Our boys can turn any situation into an adventure. I can practically hear a mother yelling: “If you don’t get out of that water right now!”
4. Don’t let anyone ground you
Ford:This photo can inspire anyone to pursue his or her dreams! Fred Hutcherson taught himself to fly. As a black man in the 1940s, he could not get flying lessons. Undeterred, he graduated from flight school in Canada, came back, and taught the Tuskegee Airmen.
5. Power of the printed word
Ford: This photo highlights the significance of the black press in the black community. I love how enterprising we were while facing even more challenges than we do now. This newspaper used to employ hundreds of black people spreading the good word.
This story has been adapted for the web by Bea Aldrich.