Portraits of Black Chicago: The Beat Goes On

black_bongo_playerBlack bongo player performs at the International Amphitheater in Chicago as part of the annual PUSH [People United to Save Humanity] ‘Black Expo’ in the fall of 1973. October 1973

Chicago’s PUSH Black Expo was a powerful tour de force for Black Businesses nationwide at the time this photo was shot.  Time magazine stated in a 1971 article: When the five-day trade fair opened in Chicago last week, there were representatives of nearly 400 black firms on hand to prove the premise. But before the week was out, Black Expo proved to be more than a display of the products of America’s fledgling black capitalism. It turned out to be an unofficial convention of entrepreneurs and politicians in search of power at the polls as well as in the marketplace. Wow.   There was even a major motion picture shot to document one year’s occurrence, entitled “Save the Children” (after that year’s theme).  So what happened?

Almost exactly twenty years after the above photo was shot, the following was published in the Chicago Reporter:

Black Expo: Taking Care of Business?

(originally published in the Chicago Reporter in September 1993)

When about 250,000 people, most of them African Americans, turned out for this year’s Chicago Black Expo, many were offered fried chicken and menthol cigarettes…

(click the link below for original footage of Marvin Gaye at the PUSH Expo)

 

Other companies, some paying up to $45,000 for the privilege, set up their display booths at strategic spots inside McCormick Place, hoping to catch every person coming through the door. Companies hawked bug spray, flashy jewelry, beer and expensive whiskey during the exposition, which ran July 9-11.

The idea for a black business exposition originated at Operation PUSH in the early 1970s as a fund raiser.

…..

But there are signs of trouble brewing for Black Expo. Some small-business experts and black entrepreneurs say such expositions don’t spur actual black business development. Others complain that corporate sponsors are promoting products, such as alcohol and tobacco, that are harmful. And they say that cultural enrichment has taken a back seat to profits.” (for more of this article click here)

from the National Archives website:

From June through October 1973 and briefly during the spring of 1974, John H. White, a 28-year-old photographer with the Chicago Daily News, worked for the federal government photographing Chicago, especially the city’s African American community. As White reflected recently, he saw his assignment as “an opportunity to capture a slice of life, to capture history.”

 

Today, John White is a staff photographer with the Chicago Sun-Times. He has won hundreds of awards, and his work has been exhibited and published widely. In 1982 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography.

…taken from the National Archives and Records Administration Website

 

I am a big fan of John H. White’s photography.  He has that magic ability to tell a whole story with one frame.  click here for his website

Below is a bonus: more footage from “Save the Children” with Marvin Gaye performing live at the Expo, and loads of street shots of Inner City Chicago in the 1970s.  Jive on.

for more on the PUSH Expo, click here

About ayanacontreras

i love the transportive powers of sound. i am a radio host/producer, DJ, Sound designer, 45rpm collector, and art lover living in the city of wind. View all posts by ayanacontreras

4 responses to “Portraits of Black Chicago: The Beat Goes On

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 50 other followers

%d bloggers like this: