Bronzeville history captured on film

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
December 8, 2000

Back in the late 1940s, Wayne F. Miller was quietly documenting the South Side Bronzeville neighborhood with his expressive photographs. He didn’t play favorites. He shot–with equal enthusiasm–the city’s stockyards, steel mills, churches, nightclubs, celebrities and street scenes.

An exhibition of his photographs, which have never been shown before in Chicago, will be on display at the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library beginning next week.

“We’ve been talking with Wayne about doing this exhibit for the past 1-1/2 years,” says Michael Flug, senior archivist at the library’s Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature. “He captured a very important part of Chicago’s history. He shot everyday life in Bronzeville and was as adept capturing street scenes as he was celebrities.

“The kind of pictures he took were extraordinary looks at people at work, in clubs, cleaning the streets, partying in their homes, relaxing in pool halls, you name it. He captured every aspect of life, and his work really gives you a sense of what people were like back then. These pictures are very rare because not a lot of photographers were documenting this.”

A special half-day conference on the exhibit featuring Miller is scheduled for Jan. 20 at the Woodson Regional Library.

One of Ebony’s first photographers, Miller–now in his 80s–resides in northern California.


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