Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite is on view now at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The exhibition features over forty photographs of black women and men reclaiming their African roots with natural hair and clothes. This is the first-ever major exhibition dedicated to this key figure of the second Harlem Renaissance. In collaboration with the African Jazz-Art Society and Studios (AJASS) and Grandassa Models, Brathwaite organized fashion shows featuring clothing designed by the models themselves, took stunning portraits of jazz musicians, and captured the black arts community in a series of behind-the-scenes photographs. Brathwaite’s work challenged mainstream beauty standards while celebrating black beauty, instilling a sense of pride throughout the community. On view through September 1 at the Skirball Cultural Center 2701 N Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles. photos courtesy of the Skirball Cultural Center
After news emerged that Freddie Gray, Jr. had broken his spine and died while in the custody of police officers – a literal straw that broke the camel's back after countless public deaths of unarmed black men and women at the hands of authorities – riots and protests erupted in Baltimore; it soon spread to New York City. Mike Krim of subversive, cult publishing imprint Paperwork NYC and model Alex Papa grabbed their cameras and found themselves in the center of the action. "Alex Papa and I decided to grab some film and join in. Not knowing what to expect, we jumped in the crowd and started taking photos. That lasted roughly twenty minutes until we found ourselves chanting "No Justice No Peace Fuck The Police" and fully engaged in the protest, which took over city blocks and highways. As voices echoed loudly, we ran to fill in gaps, walking interlinked to shut down intersections, and marched forward. At times losing people to small pockets of raw emotion that took place. I'm not sure what the exact term of "peaceful assembly" is but I feel it was accomplished last night. Was anything achieved besides screwing up all the traffic in NYC? I'm not sure. I will tell you one thing, though, it felt fucking awesome approaching Times Square with that many people and taking over what some call the center of the universe." Click here to see the full photographic essay.