Photojournalism Student Creates Exhibit that Honors the Contributions of Black Women to Society

“Black Women in Culture and History” Is on Display through February at MU’s Ellis Library

Columbia, Mo. (Feb. 15, 2012) — A Missouri School of Journalism photojournalism student and professor curated the Black History Month photo exhibit now on display on the first floor of Ellis Library on the University of Missouri campus.

Three Women in Church
Three women read from The Bible during church services. Black churches throughout the South were plagued by a series of suspicious fires in the mid-1990s, leaving ministers and parishioners to cope with the losses. Investigators were able to solve some cases but could not prove a national conspiracy in the fires. Photograph by Brian Walski.

“Black Women in Culture and History” presents a 50-year span – from the early 1950’s to nearly present day – of African-American women in everyday life, not just iconic individuals in history.

Leah Beane, with the assistance of Assistant Professor Keith Greenwood, selected 19 photographs that communicate a strong sense of caregiving, active religious life, the practice of medicine and participation in the performing arts. Alongside those are images showing the fight for civil rights, groundbreaking athletes and political figures, without which the exhibit could not be considered complete.

To develop the exhibit Beane started with images selected and considered for the 2009 “Dream, Hope, Change” exhibit, created by Jessie King, MA ’10, from the Pictures of the Year International competition archive. Beane added additional award-winner POYi photographs and additional images from the Missouri Photo Workshop (MPW) archive exhibit titled “Documenting the Black Experience in Small Town Missouri.”

Arrested in 1963 Birmingham, Ala.
A woman is arrested during civil rights protests in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963. Police used dogs and fire hoses in their attempts to control the protesters. Photograph by Charles Moore.

The photographers represent many different publications or agencies and made these images of American life across the country. All of the MPW photographs were shot in small towns in the state.

Leah Beane
Leah Beane

Beane is a dual major in journalism and art. A Walter Williams Scholar and Discovery Fellow from Florissant, Mo., she served as a photo intern at St. Louis Magazine during summer 2011 and currently works for the Missouri Theater designing marketing materials and photographing events. Beane is the recipient of a Teddy Sherwood Scholarship in photojournalism, the MU Curator’s Scholarship and a Bright Flight scholarship. She will graduate in May 2013.

“Leah had a limited range of photographs to select from and a limited time frame to create this exhibit,” said Greenwood. “She really rose to the challenge, identifying photographs with common themes and compositions that connect the diverse range contributions Black women have made in our society.”

“Black Women in Culture and History” will be on display until Feb. 29. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Updated: June 5, 2020

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