WVNCC Celebrates Black History Month With History of the Region in Photographs

WHEELING — In celebration of Black History Month, West Virginia Northern Community College will welcome Samuel W. Black this week as he presents “Through the Lens of Allen E. Cole: A Photographic History of African Americans in Cleveland, Ohio.”

The presentation will take place at noon Tuesday at the college’s Weirton campus, Wednesday at the Wheeling campus and Thursday at the New Martinsville campus. Each event, which is open to the public, is free and includes lunch. Anyone interested in attending must make a reservation by calling Sara Wood at 304-214-8917 or sending an email message to swood@wvncc.edu.

Black will discuss the life, times and work of photographer Allen E. Cole, a Kearneysville, W.Va., native who migrated to Ohio in 1905 and became one of the 20th century’s great African American photographers. Cole’s photography chronicled the growth of Black Cleveland from 1917 to the 1960s. It captured the increasing population of African Americans during the Great Migration.

An important aspect of Cole’s professional photography work is rooted in West Virginia. His family life in Kearneysville, education at Storer College in Harper’s Ferry and determination to live beyond the constraints of Jim Crow discrimination helped to shape his personal and professional ethic.

Cole, a 1905 graduate of Storer College, worked with John O. Holly of the Future Outlook League and was the photographer of Judge Perry B. Jackson, Ohio’s first African American judge.

Black is the curator of African American Collections at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh and a former curator of the Allen E. Cole Collection at the Western Reserve Historical Society. Black is the editor of the anthology, “Soul Soldiers: African Americans and the Vietnam Era,” and serves as vice president of the Association of African American Museums.