"Keepers of the Memories"
The Photographer Lecture Series
The International Center of Photography Museum
Delivered on November 6, 1980
…What I find most interesting about photography is that the very act of making photographs is like that of a time machine: By capturing life as it is the moment the picture is made, the camera preserves it and allow us to ‘reach back’ and gain, albeit in a limited manner, a sense of a different time. Photographs become a bridge to memory. For the photographer, the picture is the product of a chance encounter with the subject, a meeting in which the photographer first uses the natural eye to see the vision in the image and then using a camera, the mechanical eye, preserves both the image and the vision for posterity.
For SOME TIME AGO I collected 185 photographs, both beautiful and compelling — and until now tucked away in shoe boxes and family albums and drawers of institutional collections — that portray the still largely unknown cultural and historical milieu of Americans of African descent between 1850 (the beginning of photography) and 1950. The book is a testament to the history of the medium and the human spirit among us all. These photographers give us a new insight into the meaning of the many who shared this great country with us, before us — SOME TIME AGO…