Black History Figure (Photographer: Charles Teenie Harris)


Charles Teenie Harris also known as "One-Shot"

Documenting history is what this man did. His work is truly inspiring and admirable. His vision and his contributions to the African-American community and the city of Pittsburgh is what makes him a premiere photographer of his era.

Teenie Harris was a photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, which was one of the one of the greatest black news weeklies in America, Teenie Harris traveled the alleys, workplaces, nightclubs, and ballparks of his native city with a Speed Graphic black-and-white camera in hand.

His work ranged from being backstage with Dizzy Gillespie and Lena Horne, in the dugout with Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige, or on the streets of the Hill District or Homewood-Brushton, Teenie Harris documented black Pittsburgh with his well-crafted photographs. His images create a historically and sociologically accurate record of Pittsburgh and its African-American history from 1931 through 1975. He was nicknamed "One Shot" by Mayor David L. Lawrence because of his habit of snapping only one shot of him when other photographers would shoot many. Politics, sports, entertainment, church, home, and community figure prominently in the artist's images of Pittsburgh. (left: Little Boy Boxer, 1949, © 2000 Estate of Charles H. Harris)


I was introduced to the works of Charles Teenie Harris early last year by Arlette Kayafas of Gallery Kayafas which is part of the Thayer Street Galleries in Boston. She told me his story and gave me his book "Spirit of a Community": The Photographs of Charles "Teenie" Harris. I was very pleased. The images truly moved me and changed the way I viewed photography. What amazed me was the fact that he never left the city of Pittsburgh. Why? because Pittsburgh attracted every major black artist, athlete, political figure, and intellectual, and Harris photographed them all. He also captured the lives of its working people, from domestics, porters, teamsters, millworkers, and of its families, from grandparents on the porch swing to children playing on the street. His images reflect the hearts and homes of the African-American communities of Pittsburgh. Truly endearing, makes me want to be in every scene in my Boston African American community.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 11, 2010. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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