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US: ‘Black Is Beautiful’ exhibit showcases pivotal 1960s movement

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At 84-years-old, photographer and activist Kwame Brathwaite has his first major show but the work dates back to the 1960s.

The New-York Historical Society, where the exhibit is being hosted, said he’s viewed as a pioneer of the “Black Is Beautiful” movement.

“Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite” includes 40 black-and-white as well as color photographs, as well as clothing and jewelry, some of which have never been on publicly displayed.

His son, Kwame Brathwaite Jr., said his dad learned how to photograph Black men and women when camera equipment wasn’t tailored for dark skin tones.

“Took attention to detail to really ensure that he can make sure that we were represented properly,” said Brathwaite Jr.

Brathwaite grew up in New York City and founded the African Jazz-Art Society and Studios with his brother, organizing concerts with jazz icons like Miles Davis and Max Roach.

Clothing and jewelry worn by the Grandassa Models which Brathwaite founded is in the exhibit. The collective encouraged Black women to embrace natural hairstyles and their African ancestry.

His son said it is a discussion that is still happening today.

“The fact of the matter is, is that one should be able to bring them whole their whole selves to work, to their life and to be able to live authentically,” said Brathwaite Jr.

Celebrities such as Jesse Williams, Swiss Beatz, Alicia Keys, and Rihanna are fans of Brathwaite’s work.

“Rihanna used my father’s work to drop her clothing line. She’s another unapologetically kind of herself person also from Barbados. My father’s parents are from Barbados,” said Brathwaite Jr. “So, it was really it’s really amazing to see how people have kind of taken up the mantle and really help, you know, put the image out into the world.”

The exhibit opens to the public Friday (19AUGUST2022) and will run through January 2023 before moving to another city.