The Harlem Album: A Century in Images

Josephine Baker at the Roxy, 1950

Diana Ross Backstage at the Apollo, 1965

Malcolm X at a Rally on Lenox Avenue, 1965

Mohammed Ali and Malcolm X, 1965

Cadillac and Racoon Coats in Harlem, 1932

A Woman with Hanging Overalls, 1978

The Harlem Album: A Century in Images

The Harlem Album: A Century in Images is a remarkable collection of photographs curated by Thelma Golden at the Studio Museum in Harlem.  Home to writers and revolutionaries, artists and musicians, Harlem has also long been a source of inspiration for countless photographers.  The selection of images provided here includes photography by James Van Der Zee, Gordon Parks, Dawoud Bey and Kenneth Nelson, with photographs that reveal a broad and beautiful new visual survey of the neighborhood.

The choices in this collection were all about offering a wide variety of ways of looking and seeing and thinking,” says Studio Museum Curator Golden.  Even when it comes to some of Harlem’s legendary icons, the variety of photographs is telling.  There are the pictures of Malcolm X addressing a crowd, but also intimate scenes in which Diana Ross and James Brown shed their public masks.  Joe Louis, surrounded by cheering locals, peers coolly at the camera.  And Langston Hughes stands, appropriately, on his own stoop, an architectural feature that serves as a “site of memory” in many Harlem photographs.  In a neighborhood that has symbolized so much, to people all around the world, the stoop was also a kind of threshold: between home and the larger world.

James Van Der Zee: Photographer of the Harlem Renaissance

Gordon Parks: Legendary Photographer, Filmmaker, Writer and Composer

Thelma Golden: How Art Gives Shape to Cultural Change

Slide Show: The Harlem Album/A Century in Images

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Florence Ballard and The Supremes




Florence Ballard: The Original Founder and Leader of The Supremes

As the 64th annual Golden Globes Awards unfolded on the evening of January 15th, Jennifer Hudson, a newcomer, won the award for Best Supporting Actress in a motion picture for playing a determined but less than svelte singer in Dreamgirls.  Bursting into tears during her acceptance speech, Ms. Hudson, who first gained notice on American Idol and had her first screen role in this film, told the audience that was filled with Hollywood’s top movie and television stars: “You don’t know how much this does for my confidence.  Because of this, it makes me feel like I’m part of a community, it makes me feel like an actress, and you don’t understand how much that feels good today.”

At the conclusion of her speech, Jennifer Hudson held up her Golden Globes Award and dedicated it to Florence Ballard.  Ms. Hudson’s character in Dreamgirls, Effie, is said to be based upon the life of Ballard.  Florence Ballard was the original founder and leader of The Supremes, but Motown Records mogul Berry Gordy soon replaced her, moving Diana Ross into the role of the lead singer.  Gordy believed that Ms. Ross was much more attractive than Ballard and would have a significantly greater “crossover” audience appeal.

Not long afterwards, Ms. Ballard was dismissed from the group, giving her last performance with The Supremes during their 1967 singing engagement at The Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.  Ms. Ballard spent much of the last five years of her life in a state of abject poverty; she died in 1976 at the early age of thirty-two.  Jennifer Hudson honored Florence Ballard at the Globes ceremony as one of her heroines, speaking of her as “a lady who never got a fair chance.”

Florence Ballard: Yesterday

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