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The Scurlock Studio and Black Washington: Picturing The Promise Hardcover – January 7, 2009
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*Starred Review* In 1911 Addison Scurlock opened a photography studio in Washington, D.C., and went on to chronicle the aspirations and ambitions of the black community into the 1990s. Later joined by his sons, Robert and George, themselves all part of the rising middle class of segregated Washington, Scurlock recorded the finer moments of black life—portraits of wealth and comfort, celebrations of marriages and new homes, political and social achievements. As the city changed and grew, with the black population swelling, the Scurlocks chronicled the growth and later decline of black businesses, the change from a middle class forced to develop its own institutions within a segregated society to an influx of poor migrants from the South with less connection to those institutions, and the social and political tumult wrought by the civil rights movement. Photographs include the famous (Marian Anderson, Duke Ellington, Ralph Bunche, W. E. B. DuBois, and Muhammad Ali) as well as the influential but perhaps less well known (business owners, churchgoers, civic leaders, members of high society). With more than 100 images, this book is a proud celebration of a vibrant community from the early to the late twentieth century. --Vanessa Bush
“The book tells a fascinating story of the complex social and cultural world of African Americans in 20th-century Washington and opens a window into the broader world of black America and the struggle for racial justice.”—James Oliver Horton, Benjamin Banneker Professor Emeritus of American Studies and History, George Washington University
“This wonderful compilation provides a valuable visual narrative of a critical era in the evolution of black Washington. Capturing the people, places, and events that helped shape a powerful city, the Scurlocks created a precious historical record of transition and change in the nation's capital.”—Ronald Walters, Distinguished Leadership Scholar, Professor of Government and Politics, University of Maryland
“‘Those were the days!’ This beautiful book reminds me of the 1940s and ’50s, a time when sitting for a Scurlock photograph signified a rite of passage. I sat in 1948 by which time I knew something of the significance of such a venture. This book offers readers a delightful trip back to that memorable time.”—John Hope Franklin, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History, Duke University, and 1995 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
“With more than 100 images, this book is a proud celebration of a vibrant community from the early to late twentieth century.”—Booklist
Top customer reviews
After having been to the Smithsonian exhibit in the temporary location of the new African American History Museum, I bought the book and was more than pleased to see that it easily surpassed my hopes and expectations. All aspects of the Scurlock Studio are well represented: the portraits of well known and unknown Washingtonians; the city of Washington, including events and storefronts; the visiting celebrities ranging from DuBois to Fredi Washington; and many photographs of the leaders, students and faculty of Howard University, where Addison Scurlock and his sons Robert and George were the "unofficial official photographers" for the better part of the 20th century.
To put my opinion of this book in a bit of personal perspective, I own nearly a thousand photography books, many of them scarce and collectible. This magnificent monograph more than holds its own among the best of them, and it belongs in the collection of any person or family who wants to understand where we've been and how we got to where we are. With its almost absurdly low list price, it's an absolute steal for anyone with an interest in either photography or African American history.