Loss/Capture in Conversation: Vivian G. Harsh’s Life and Legacy
with Dr. Melanie Chambliss and Tracy Drake
(Release: Nov 1)
Volume 1: The State of Black Cultural Archives.
Edited by Steven D. Booth and Stacie Williams
Letter from the Editors
The Loss/Capture project was born out of a eulogy.
As archivists, when the news was released that the Johnson Publishing Company was selling its famed photo archive as part of its bankruptcy filing in 2019, we grieved. In many ways, the Johnson Publishing Company photo collection offered a corrective to mainstream media representations of Black people as nothing more than the sum of their individual and collective trauma and tragedy. While we were sad about the decentralization of the collection from its original building designed by architect John Moutoussamy, we also wanted to celebrate both the legacy of Black cultural heritage and history and the liberatory possibilities of what can come next if we are intentional, equitable, and inclusive in our planning and preservation actions.
2020 has brought the concepts of loss and capture into stark relief across space and time. The COVID-19 pandemic and its socioeconomic ramifications, uprisings for racial justice, and a frankly disturbing and violent presidential election season have taken so much away from all of us. It is a time in which American monuments to human traffickers are coming down by hand or by nature, but the executive branch is banning its staff and grant awardees from discussing critical race theory. In our daily lives, we look for ways to care for our loved ones safely through masks and social distancing, while using our now-ubiquitous virtual reality to share our work and values with peers and enthusiasts, and across Chicago and beyond.
At this dissonant crossroads, Loss/Capture aims to explore the rich and complex cultural experiences, contributions, and challenges of Black life across time and temporality. Together, our contributors share a holistic understanding of how our history is captured—through music, memory, manuscripts, murals, and movements—with a dynamic vision to grow, preserve, and share ideas about Black liberation, love, and art with subsequent generations.
This labor of love would not have been possible without the help, guidance, coordination and resource assistance from Sixty Inches From Center, especially Tempestt Hazel and Noor Shawaf. We also want to thank our fantastic contributors: Ireashia Bennett, Steven D. Booth, Kiki Lechuga-Dupont, Steven Fullwood, Erin Glasco, Tempestt Hazel, Christina Shutt, Ryan Edmund Thiel, and Arlene Turner-Crawford. We present this collective work on behalf of the ancestors, who left us a trail to follow on the path to liberation. Black Lives Matter, forever and always.
Stacie Williams & Steven D. Booth