The Black American Experience

The Insight section of the Washington Post features photos of the black American experience during the 20th century.  The photos are from various photographers including Gordon Parks, Wayne F. Miller, Ernest C. Withers, Charles Moore and Spider Martin.



In February and July of 2015, the National Museum of African American History and Culture released the first three parts in a multi-volume collection of books featuring some of the most definitive photographs that chronicle the black American experience for more than a century as part of its “Double Exposure” series. The collection culls through an expansive archive of images by famous photographers, such as Gordon Parks, Wayne F. Miller, Ernest C. Withers, Charles Moore, Spider Martin and more.

“We decided early on that photography would be the major item of the museum,” NMAAHC founder and director Lonnie G. Bunch III told In Sight. “In many ways photography is one of the ways people have come to history. They look at all of the images and ask themselves, ‘What were their lives like? Were they happy? Did life treat them fairly?’ That begins to allow us to unpack history as you unpack the photo.”


A third novel in the series will focus solely on black women.

While the role of men has often dominated the narrative of the black experience when contextualizing it within the civil rights movement, entertainment, and work or family life, the museum does a brilliant job of extracting the singularly unique experience of black women throughout the 20th century by dedicating the third volume, “African American Women,” solely to them. “As a scholar, what I realize is when you illuminate the story of woman, you really illuminate the story of an entire community,” Bunch said. “In some ways I felt we were narrowing but expanding it and exploring it through a different lens.”

Check out the Washington Post to read the entire article and to view the photos.  You can order the first book Through The African American Lens here or at and you can read the New York Times review here.

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