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Through African-American Eyes
Hickman Photo Exhibit Tells Story of Black Dallas History
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DALLAS- He was one of the greatest African-American photographers of our time.
Dallas photographer R.C. Hickman’s legacy in photographs tells the story and the history of a people who have lived and survived the ultimate struggle of being Black in America.
Now, for the first time Hickman’s photographs are coming to Dallas.
The Dallas ISD African American Heritage Center in cooperation with Humanities Texas is proud to host the exhibit: “Behold the People: R.C. Hickman’s Photographs of Black Dallas, 1949-1961.”
The exhibit will be on display at the Dallas ISD African American Cultural Heritage Center at the Nolan Estes Plaza on Beckley Ave. south of Kiest Blvd., from September 15 – September 26.
On Tuesday, September 16, 2008 at 7:00 PM there will be a special exhibit opening featuring a lecture on African American History in Dallas by Dr. Marvin W. Dulaney of the University of Texas at Arlington.
Hickman documented Dallas’s African American community through the civil rights era.
The exhibit is sponsored by the Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin and presented in partnership with Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. R. C. Hickman’s photographs include images of nationally popular entertainers and Dallas nightclubs, schools and universities, funerals, and notable Dallas citizens.
"R. C. Hickman was an outstanding photographer whose work will remain at the Center for American History as a permanent visual record of a significant transitional era in the history of the African American community in Dallas,” Dr. Don Carleton, executive director of the Center for American History said in a statement about Hickman’s work. “R. C. was always generous with his time when it came to mentoring the many young students who came to him to talk about photography…”
Hickman’s thousands of images produced from 1949 to 1961 document aspects of life in an African American community in Texas. His photographs depict a community largely invisible to white Americans—thoroughly a part of mainstream America by virtue of accomplishment and lifestyle but excluded from because of race.
In addition to his coverage of racial segregation, the book included Hickman’s photos of such renowned figures as Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Ella Fitzgerald, and Joe Louis, taken during their visits to Dallas.
According to the University of Texas at Austin, Center for American History, Hickman was born in 1922 in the small East Texas town of Mineola.
During the Great Depression, his father moved the family to Dallas. After briefly attending Austin’s Tillotson College, Hickman joined the Army and developed his interest in photography during World War II.
He soon earned credentials to become an official Army photographer and at war’s end, he returned to Dallas and began a professional career as a photographer at the Dallas Star Post, where he also worked as a salesman, and as a freelancer for Jet magazine, Sepia, Ebony, newspapers in the East and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
His photography for the NAACP documented the inequities of school conditions in Dallas, and exposed him to dangerous conditions during the fight to end racial segregation.
In addition to photographs of Dallas news events, also included are photographs of nationally popular entertainers and Dallas nightclubs, schools and universities, funerals, and notable Dallas citizens.
The majority of the photographs were created during the 1950s. A small number of contact prints and exhibition prints are also included in the photographic archive.
Hickman died in Dallas on December 1, 2007.
Exhibit hours will be from 5:00 to 8:00 PM, Monday –Thursday.
For group tours please call the Dallas ISD Social Studies Department, 972-794-7943.