Preserving Black History
by Angela Ford, Executive Director of T.A.G. Foundation
In early 2015, I was sitting in a community meeting daydreaming, when someone said in passing “Well, about 10,000 photographs are disintegrating at The Chicago Defender.” I snapped into the present. “What did you just say?!” I replied.
The Chicago Defender is one of the few institutions that have chronicled the lives of African Americans in Chicago from the early 1900s to the present. That is why it is imperative that we salvage these damaged images and stories. Through its content, The Chicago Defender has been integral in moving the needle on countless historic issues facing African Americans including segregation in the military, campaigning against Jim Crow era violence, influencing the Great Migration and much more.
My organization, the T.A.G. Foundation, is committed to preserving and sharing The Chicago Defender's photo archives, which is why we are in the process of building a digital platform, The Obsidian Collection. This online collection will house African American artifacts from across the country. Once completed, our goal is to make The Obsidian Collection the most comprehensive digital archive of African-American history in the United States.
The digital archive, which will be modeled after the Explore Chicago Collections, will provide historians, educators, and students a unified portal to access digital images and stories that capture major moments in African American history.
With support of the The Chicago Defender's executive staff and generous support Robert R. McCormick Foundation we have set the stage for bringing this historic platform to life.