Black Excellence

A New Book Showcases Black Life in the Twin Cities in the ’60s and ’70s

black community in Minneapolis, blacks in Minneapolis, black photographer, Charles Chamblis

Charles Chamblis took up photography after his wife gave him a camera as a gift in the early 1960s. Soon after, he started photographing the soul and the people of his South Minneapolis black community. The Pittsburgh native was in fact known as “The Pictureman” in his neighborhood.

As reported by the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, some of Chamblis’ work ended up in the media but most of it was kept in the family. After he passed in 1991, his daughter kept about 1,000 pictures and donated the rest of it to the Minnesota History Center. Now, his work is being published in a book titled Sights, Sounds, Soul: The Twin Cities Through the Lens of Charles Chamblis by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

black community in Minneapolis, blacks in Minneapolis, black photographer, Charles Chamblis
Minnesota Viking Chuck Foreman, and his son, Jay Foreman, at Lake Calhoun. (Image from “Sights, Sounds, Soul: The Twin Cities Through the Lens of Charles Chamblis”)
black community in Minneapolis, blacks in Minneapolis, black photographer, Charles Chamblis
A black Santa Claus meets children. (Image from “Sights, Sounds, Soul: The Twin Cities Through the Lens of Charles Chamblis”)

According to the article, Chamblis used his photography to capture the black community in the Twin Citiesin a positive light after noticing how much the main stream press focused on the negative in the community.  “During his lifetime, Chamblis saw a steady stream of mainstream coverage of his community that focused only on the negative, ” states the article. “He chose to turn his lens toward “the blooms,” the best of what the black Twin Cities had to offer.”

black community in Minneapolis, blacks in Minneapolis, black photographer, Charles Chamblis
Michael “Chico” Smith in black leather and cowboy boots. (Image from “Sights, Sounds, Soul: The Twin Cities Through the Lens of Charles Chamblis”)

An exhibit showcasing some of the images from the book will open with a reception this week and will run through March 31st at the Mil Commons, Mill City Museum in Minneapolis. For more information, click here.

 

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