These Poignant Pictures Of Black Entertainers From Mid-20th Century Should Be Treasured Forever

An important addition to any history concerning Blacks would be incomplete without Nichelle Gainer’s upcoming book of historic photographs of Black actors, dancers, writers and entertainers of mid-20th century, who were rarely covered by White-dominated entertainment publications. Here are a few snaps. Undoubtedly, these pictures give us an insight into the beautiful lives of the ignored Black entertainers.

1. The Pointer Sisters: June, Ruth, Bonnie and Anita


The sisters were nominated for over a dozen Gammies in pop, R&B, and Country categories. This photograph from 1973 shows them dressed in 40s styles.

2. The cover of the book


3. A scene from Mr. Wonderful


The picture above shows Sammy Davis Jr. and Olga James in the 1956 Broadway musical.

4. Black beauties


The picture on the left is of an unnamed model photographed in 1954 but the picture appeared in the November issue of EBONY eleven years later. To the right are models Cordie King and Alberta Culbreath photographed for 1958 issue of EBONY.

5. The first iconic selfie


When Colin Powell shared this 60-year-old selfie on his Facebook page, it was a in strong challenge to Ellen DeGeneres’ Twitter shattering selfie. But Mr. Powell couldn’t have done this at the time he photographed himself, not because of lack of technology but because of prevailing segregation.

6. A mother and a dancer


To the left is Ena Frias’ mother, Valeria Perojo Frias, who was born in Cuba. The photograph is from the 1940s. Dancer Scoogie Brown is on the right photographed on June 26, 1955.

7. Eartha Kitt in Istanbul (c.1949)


8. Lena Horne with Tuskegee Airmen


9. A Kennedy and a Cleveland


Pat Cleveland in 1972 is on the left and Jayne Kennedy photographed in April 1977 .

10. A millionaire’s daughter and a celeb


Activist Mary Church Terrell, daughter of Robert Reed Church, South’s first black millionaire, is on the left. Terrell earned bachelor’s (1884) and master’s (1888) degrees from Oberlin College, studied in Europe for several years and was fluent in German, Spanish and French. Terrell was a founder and the first president of the National Association of Colored Women (Charlotte Hawkins Brown was a vice president). On the right is Nina Simone circa 1965.

11. Girls and Percy


A gang of beautiful girls circa 1940. On the right is Percy Verwayne, born in British Guiana (now Guyana) and appeared on Broadway, on radio and in several films for at least 30 years.

12. The other Dorothy


Dorothy Dandridge, on the set of ‘Carmen Jones’ in Hollywood of 1954.

Credit: Nichelle Gainer via Tumblr. You may pre-order the book here.

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