From 1927 until his death in 1979, E.F. Joseph documented the daily lives of African Americans in the Bay Area. His images were printed in the Pittsburgh Courier and the Chicago Defender but not widely published in his home community. A graduate of the American School of Photography in Illinois, Joseph photographed the likes of such celebrities and activists as Josephine Baker, Mahalia Jackson, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Thurgood Marshall. However, what is perhaps more compelling within these pages are the countless images of everyday citizens–teaching, entertaining, worshipping, working, and serving their community and their nation.
In 1980, Careth Reid purchased Joseph’s collection of negatives and personal papers, and nearly four decades later, a labor of love comes to fruition with the publication of The Picture Man. Reid, a lifelong educator and champion of community service in the Bay Area, partnered with longtime friend Ruth Beckford, a dancer, teacher, choreographer, actor, and author. Reid, a native of Berkeley, was the recipient of San Francisco State University’s Alumna of the Year Award in 1990 and is also a member of the university’s Hall of Fame. Beckford, a lifelong resident of Oakland, is featured in a downtown mural of the community’s artists and was also celebrated as an Outstanding Alumni of Oakland Technical High School in 2015. Together, they tell the story of the Bay Area’s African American community through the eye and lens of one of its own.
The program will be followed by a book signing of The Picture Man: From the Collection of Bay Area Photographer E.F. Joseph 1927-1979