Exhibit explores legacy of black photography in Northwest Louisiana

Shreveport native Raegan Stearns says one of the most impactful photos features the Rev. Harry Blake

NW Louisiana Black Photographic Legacy at BP History Center

BOSSIER CITY, La. (KSLA) — In honor of Black History Month, Bossier Parish Libraries’ History Center held a special presentation about black photography.

Shreveport native Raegan Stearns hosted “Unshuttered, Uncovered: Northwest Louisiana’s Black Photographic Legacy” on Saturday.

“When I think about my history, and just seeing how it is reflected in these photos, just knowing that there was a whole community, there is a whole community in Northwest Louisiana,” said Stearns, who owns Cloud & Clay Cultural Preservation and is an associate archivist at Alabama State University.

“Unshuttered, Uncovered: Northwest Louisiana’s Black Photographic Legacy”
“Unshuttered, Uncovered: Northwest Louisiana’s Black Photographic Legacy” (Source: KSLA)

Stearns featured a collection of various photographs from family albums of prominent black photographers. The exhibit features works from various studios, including Hollywood Studio, Sanders Studio, Scott’s Studio and Sumner Studio.

Stearns talked about what encouraged her to document and research black photography.

"I was always interested in who took the photos that we would find in family albums. So just knowing it had to be studios, black studios documenting black life in Northwest Louisiana

Stearns says one of the most impactful photos in the exhibit features the Rev. Dr. Harry Blake.

The iconic photograph shows the now-retired pastor of Mount Canaan Missionary Baptist Church being tended to shortly after he was hit with a billy club baton at Little Union Baptist Church in 1963 during the Civil Rights Movement.

“I think most people when they think of Shreveport or Northwest Louisiana civil rights, they think of that photo," Stearns said.

"But most people don’t know that it was Mr. Cortland Milloy who took that photo. So that’s the one I think is most impactful, most representative of the civil rights era and most familiar to people.”

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