Bring back some good or bad memories


September 30, 2015

40 Color Photographs Capture Everyday Life of Chicago's African-American Residents in the Early 1970s

From June through October 1973 and briefly during the spring of 1974, John H. White, a 28-year-old photographer with the Chicago Daily News, worked for the federal government photographing Chicago, especially the city`s African American community. White took his photographs for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) DOCUMERICA project.

As White reflected recently, he saw his assignment as "an opportunity to capture a slice of life, to capture history." His photographs portray the difficult circumstances faced by many of Chicago's African American residents in the early 1970s, but they also catch the "spirit, love, zeal, pride, and hopes of the community."

John White has won hundreds of awards, and his work has been exhibited and published widely. In 1982 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography.

Beauties with colorful hair grace a float during the annual Bud Billiken Day Parade along Dr. Martin l. King Jr. drive in Chicago’s South Side.

A senior citizens’ march to protest inflation, unemployment and high taxes.

People take to the water at a 12th Street Beach in Lake Michigan in Chicago’s South Side in the summer of 1973.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks on a radio broadcast from the headquarters of Operation Push, at its annual convention.

A young man showing his muscle during a small community program in Chicago in the South Side.

The Kadats of America, Chicago’s most loved young black drill team, shown performing on a Sunday afternoon at a community talent show in the South Side.

World heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, a black muslim, attends the sect’s service to hear Elijah Muhammad deliver the annual savior’s day message in Chicago.

‘The Fruit of Islam’, a special group of bodyguards for muslim leader Elijah Muhammad, sit at the bottom of the platform while he delivers his annual savior’s day message in Chicago.

Muslim women dressed in white applaud Elijah Muhammad.

South Side group of children in Chicago at a playground at 40th and Drexel Boulevard.

A man enjoying a nap on a chaise lounge in the Chicago’s South Side.

A band performs at the lake meadows shopping center in Chicago.

Black products and services was one of the themes at the annual black expo held in Chicago.

Youngsters cool off with fire hydrant water in the Chicago’s South Side in the Woodlawn community.

Balloon salesman in South Side Chicago’s 47th Street many of the city’s Black business owners started with small operations such as this and grew by working hard.

Children play outside the Ida B. Wells homes, one of Chicago’s oldest housing projects.

Sunrise on Lake Michigan with Chicago shown in the background.

Artist Ron Blackburn painting an outdoor wall mural at the corner of 33rd and Giles streets in Chicago.

A child savors a snow cone just received from a sidewalk vendor in the Chicago’s West Side.

Chicago Ghetto in the South Side.

Worshippers at Holy Angel Catholic church in Chicago’s South Side. It is the city’s largest Black catholic church.

Student in a Black studies class in a West Side Chicago classroom reading a book about great rulers in Africa’s past.

A swimsuit clad woman enjoys her summer outing at Chicago’s 12th Street Beach in Lake Michigan.

A class of Black student welders with their instructor at a former grade school in the heart of the Cabrini-green housing project.

A family enjoying the summer weather at Chicago’s 12th Street Beach in Lake Michigan.

Black members of the Chicago City Council during a budget hearing.

Youngsters performing on an empty lot at 5440 South Princeton Avenue in Chicago’s South Side.

A student at the westinghouse industrial vocation school in Chicago’s West Side.

Black youths play basketball at Stateway Gardens’ Highrise housing project in the Chicago’s South Side.

A man operating a newsstand in Chicago in the West Side is believed to be the Black business capital of the United States.

Minority youngsters who gathered to have their picture taken in Chicago’s South Side during a community talent show.

Black owned business in Chicago’s South Side.

Black neighbors outside in Chicago’s West Side.

Lake meadows apartment complex in Chicago’s South Side inhabited 70% by Blacks.

Washington Park in Chicago’s South Side where many Black families enjoy picnicking during the summer.

A couple and their dog in their apartment in South Side Chicago.

Black art and culture was one of the themes at the annual Black expo held in Chicago.

Vote registration drive was one aspect of Black expo.

A Black man, one of nearly 1.2 million people of his race who make up over one third of Chicago’s population.

Lerone Bennett, well known Black writer who is senior editor at Ebony magazine, in his office at Johnson Publishing Company in Chicago.

(Photos via U.S. National Archives)


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