Saturday, March 3, 2012

Teenie Harris Exhibit at the Carnegie

There are scores of many famous Pittsburghers throughout its history. There are a plethora of famous athletes in our history. Dozens of famous musicians, politicans, and bon vivants.

But these famous folks are but a tiny fraction of Pittsburgh's history. The vast majority of people are just everyday folks, working a job and going to day to day. Odds are good that if those people were black and lived in the City between 1930 and 1975, they encountered Charles "Teenie" Harris.

Teenie Harris was an Afro-American photographer that worked for the Pittsburgh Courier, the black newspaper of the day. Harris primarily worked out of the Hill District and documented the everyday lives of black people and any celebrities that happened through the City of Pittsburgh.

It's hard to believe that there was a time, in the not-too-distant past, that segregation was an accepted standard. There was a White Pittsburgh and a Black Pittsburgh in most of Harris' photographs. However, it was refreshing to see people with actual muscles due to hard work and not from going to the gym 24-7 and doing steroids/drinking muscle building shakes.

The people in the photographs, primarily black, were very dignified in the photographs. They showed a lot of inner strength and a happiness in most of the shots, even if their daily lives were probably difficult.

On a side note, if you go look for this great photo of a woman holding a 3 month old baby in her hand. The kicker is that he is standing up, at age 3 months, in the palm of her hand. The mom taught all of her kids to do this and she would dance around the living room with them standing in the palm. It's hilarious to see.

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