Institute for Arts and Media

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The Big Questions

From the 1950s to the 1990s, more than 17,000 photographs from three photographers documented the existence of a large, vibrant African-American community that had an important presence in Los Angeles.

1. What were some of that community's contributions to the political, economic, religious, and social structures of Los Angeles?

2. If I am a young student attending school in the Greater Los Angeles area in the early 21st Century, what similarities do I see between the experiences, and living and working conditions, of me and my family to the individuals in these pictures? In other words, in something larger than a purely literal sense, how can I see myself in these pictures?

3. What happened to that community from the 1990s to the present time, in demographic and geographic, political, economic and social terms?

4. While the African-American community in the Greater Los Angeles area does not have the presence it had from the 1950s to the 1990s, how might that change? How can a community recover some of its past?