Newspaper archives chronicle 'Empowerment'

February 11, 2011 2:37:17 PM PST
An exhibit at the South Shore Cultural Center displays poignant images of life in black America.

The Journey to Empowerment exhibit, (, resurrects many of the poignant chapters of Arican-American life in the United States of America over the last 75 years through photos.

"We started out the exhibits with politics and we went to business and sports and entertainment, which usually is what most think about sports and entertainment - African Americans. But we wanted to show that there's more to us than that," Sandra Enimil, Chicago Defender newspaper.

This fifth installment of the exhibit shares a snapshot of life in black America through the unique perspectives of African American men within the business and political communities. All the black and white photographs are from the archives of the Chicago Defender newspaper. Many of the images haven't been seen for decades and some, like a picture of Harold Pierce, the founder of Harold's Chicken Shack, are rarely seen at all.

"The archive has over a million photos. We didn't want to flood the space just give a sample and highlight certain people," Enimil said.

The exhibit also highlights certain events, such as the slaying of Benjamin Lewis, the first Africa-American alderman in Chicago. Lewis was elected to the 24 th Ward in 1958 and was killed after winning a landslide re-election in 1963. His is considered the last politically motivated murder in Chicago.

The Wall of Firsts features trailblazers in the African American community.

"The good, the great stories about us. The bad stories. The stuff that's just about us. So we can celebrate ourselves and learn about ourselves," Enimil said.

The exhibit runs through March 15th.