Photography showcasing black people, especially old black and white photos of people I don’t know, is on the short list of my favorite things about the African-American experience. Fans of this art form explain it in different ways but photography aficionados tend to appreciate the mysterious power surrounding the unknown personal stories of everyday people. Along these lines, Dwayne Rodgers created The Black Vernacular to serve as “a living document of the deceased” and offer a glimpse into our black American past through old photographs submitted via social media.

In an interview with Okayplayer, Rodgers explains that the project was inspired by Black History month and aims to “shift the paradigm of the ‘great person’ conception of history [by acknowledging] the everyday person for their contribution to our collective legacy.” The collection includes some well-known people but mostly unknowns, and all of the photography is amateur — hence the term “vernacular.” The results, scanned from photos spanning decades of family and friends, are intriguing and their numbers growing. Pictures of folks’ parents and grandparents taken with strained color film juxstaposed with ripped and grainy black & whites whose stories are hard to even imagine…it’s quite priceless work.

Check out a few images from The Black Vernacular and follow the link if you’re interested in seeing more or submitting photos of your own.

Thomas Gage, Sr.

Valencia Stubbs Watts and Joseph Watts

Geneva Taylor

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