Chicago: 1977-1979. 166 loose black and white photographs, all measuring 8” x 10”; none are captioned. Generally very good plus or better.
This is a collection of photographs by an important Black photographer, Tony Rhoden, depicting several events in the career of then-Alderman Eugene Sawyer. Sawyer was initially elected alderman of Chicago's 6th Ward in 1971 and by 1987 he was the longest serving African American alderman on the Chicago City Council. After the sudden death of Mayor Harold Washington, Sawyer ultimately became Chicago's second Black mayor after a special city council election.
These photos document several events of Sawyer's work as alderman and while none are captioned, several of the events are easily identifiable based on clues within the photos. The photos are in nine distinct series, eight of which are dated.
15 photographs have a March 1, 1977 stamp and depict an event for the Sixth Ward Regular Democratic Association [SWRDA] at a cafeteria or banquet hall called “New Burning Spear.” Based on a plaque seen in the images, the event included an award presentation to Mayor Bilandic for his “Demonstrated Consideration for the People of this Community.” In addition to the awards presentation there are several photos showing the large room filled with African Americans sitting at long tables. At least two other series here involve the SWRDA including 21 shots of a Thanksgiving dinner for seniors sponsored by Sawyer and the organization.
A series of 22 photos from October 1978 depict a Democratic party fundraising or similar event at a hotel ballroom. Mayor Bilandic, Sawyer and other dignitaries can be seen on stage and political banners are seen hanging on the walls of the ballroom which is filled with Black constituents. A 26 shot series from November of the same year appears to show a SWRDA meeting, with several photos of speakers at a podium and many wonderful group shots. One photo here shows a man receiving an award from the Chicago Crime Commission on behalf of the Chatham Park Manor Citizens on Patrol.
The photographer for all the photographs on offer, H.S. “Tony” Rhoden, was the first Black photographer for the United States Navy. He joined the staff of The Chicago Defender in 1946 and was known for taking daring risks to get his shots; in the early 1950s he defied local authorities' attempts to cover up a lynching in Mississippi, hiding in the trunk of a car to photograph the victim. In 1955 Rhoden opened his own business, which became the first African American-owned press service approved by the Chicago Police Advisory Committee.
Great images of African American political events in the late 1970s, all taken by a Black Chicagoan. Very good +. Item #2660