ain’t many coloured folks here

Saturday night in a saloon, Craigville, Minn., September 1937 – Russell Lee

Toronto. In the 1970s, I enjoyed the local library’s coffee table sized books of famous photographs and American photographers. In these books, I learned of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) program from the 1930s/40s and how it recorded the impact of the depression on American poor. Photographs were taken by people like Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Russell Lee.

To my innocent eyes, the very few American Blacks in the photos seemed natural. I never thought about why or how this came about even though people of colour in America exceeded the population of Canada and were disproportionally poor.

Atlantic Monthly, an excellent magazine, published in its December 2020 edition the article “Whitewashing the Great Depression” by Sarah Boxer. The article discusses how the FSA intentionally encouraged photographs of mainly poor whites. Well worth a read.

A big thank you to my friend and photographic historian, George Dunbar, for sharing this fid with me.

This entry was posted in history and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.