May 25th 2023

Fullerton Hall
Registration required

Join cultural historian Ayana Contreras and Kwame Brathwaite Jr., son of photographer Kwame Brathwaite and director of the Kwame Brathwaite Archive, for a discussion of the exhibition Kwame Brathwaite: Things Well Worth Waiting For.

Kwame Brathwaite came to photography through music. In 1956, after seeing photographs taken in the dim light of a club during a music event organized by AJASS (African Jazz-Art Society and Studios), a group that he co-founded, Brathwaite was inspired to pick up a camera himself. Initially, he took pictures in support of a larger cause—uplifting the “Black is Beautiful” movement, which he helped to shape by organizing fashion shows and concerts in New York that celebrated African beauty, culture, and heritage and subverted Western beauty standards. These beginnings set the stage for a prolific, seven-decade career documenting the visual culture unfolding alongside the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.

Generously supported by the Carol Given Winston Fund.

Please note that this is an in-person event that takes place at the museum.

In accordance with state and City of Chicago guidelines, visitors to the museum are no longer required to wear masks or provide proof of vaccination. Anyone who would like to continue to wear a mask is welcome to do so. Learn more about our visiting policies and what to expect.

If you have any questions about programming, please reach out to

Closed captioning will be available for this program. For questions related to accessibility accommodations, please email
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Ayana Contreras is a cultural historian, memory worker, radio DJ, and archivist. An avid vinyl collector with over 8,000 vintage records, she hosts the Reclaimed Soul program on WBEZ and Vocalo Radio in Chicago.

Contreras is a columnist for DownBeat magazine, and her writings have been published in The New York Times, Chicago Review, Oxford American and Bandcamp Daily among other publications.

Her book on Post-Civil Rights Era cultural history, titled Energy Never Dies: Afro-Optimism and Creativity in Chicago, was published December 2021 through University of Illinois Press.
Kwame Braithwaite Jr.

Kwame Samori Brathwaite, son of photographer Kwame Brathwaite, is the director of the Kwame Brathwaite Archive. He manages the archive as well as collaborative projects that are concordant with the themes in his father’s work, namely activism, politics, fashion and music.

Kwame Samori authored a chapter entitled “Fashion and Consciousness” in Mod New York: Fashion Takes a Trip and an article, “A Look at Life through my Father’s Lens,” for National Geographic. He co-curated the exhibition Celebrity and the Everyday at Philip Martin Gallery (2018), and curated Black is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite, a touring exhibition in partnership with Aperture Foundation (2019-2023), The Struggle Continues, Victory is Certain (2020), Changing Times (2021) and My Village | New York (2022). He has lectured at numerous institutions including Harvard Art Museum, The Courtauld Institute, Christie’s, and Google.

Kwame Samori graduated from Amherst College with a B.A. in Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought and received his MBA from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Aperture Foundation in New York and Polytechnic School in Pasadena, CA. He is from New York City and lives in San Marino, CA with his wife and three children.

Image info:
Untitled (Self-Portrait Taken in AJAS Studio), about 1964.

Kwame Brathwaite. Promised gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall. © The Kwame Brathwaite Archive.

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