Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People

by Thomas Allen Harris


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Please consider supporting Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People, a PBS documentary that explores how African Americans have used photography as a tool for social change. Since the birth of photography in 1840s, African Americans rejected what they saw about themselves in the dominant culture and took ownership of their own cultural image.  Empowered through photography, Black people began to record and embrace their own truths and forge their own identities.

Through A Lens Darkly illuminates the hidden, little known and underappreciated stories of African Americans transforming themselves and the nation through the power of the camera lens. The film also explores how contemporary photographers and artists like Deborah Willis, Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Anthony Barboza, Lyle Ashton Harris, Hank Willis Thomas, Glenn Ligon, Coco Fusco and Clarissa Sligh, have built upon the legacy of early Black photographers while trying to reconcile a past that our forebears would rather forget.

Please help us complete this important project by making a tax-deductible donation that will be used for the final editing, sound mix, and archival licensing of the Through A Lens Darkly project.

We have been working on this film and multimedia project for the past 8-years and we could not have made it this far without the support of our friends, colleagues, partners and funders. We welcome you to join our completion campaign.

In many ways, I was destined to make this film because of grandfather, Albert Sidney Johnson, Jr..  For him, photography was a means of unifying our extended family, knitting together the disparate branches and providing a means to connect one generation with the next. Grandpa’s stories describing his great grandparents making their way out of slavery and building their lives into something despite the crippling racial barriers they faced, were brought to life by the photographic images that boldly showed us who we really were. My family archive compelled me to create a collective archive of who we are as African Americans, as Americans, as humans.

JOIN US!!! Through A Lens Darkly is a collaborative project. We appreciate your support of our journey to create and share images of ourselves with honor, respect and dignity.

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