In 2015, author Nichelle Gainer will release the second edition of her much-lauded coffee table book “Vintage Black Glamour” (Rocket 88 Books), which celebrates the glamour of early 20th century black women through hundreds of archived photographs that Gainer found over the course of 10 years of research. Its impending release comes at a time when a rising generation of black women filmmakers, writers, and directors, like Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, Mara Brock Akil, Issa Rae and others, has been instrumental in presenting the visual narrative of black women in front of and behind the lens.

In the center of documenting black beauty and glamour in its many forms throughout the early 20th century was the Scurlock Studio, the preeminent photo studio for Washington’s black community, headed by Addison Scurlock and his two sons, Robert and George.

The collection of images in the book “Picturing The Promise: Scurlock Studio and Black Washington” (Smithsonian Books, 2009) features some of the most impressive photographs of  black life–men, women and girls–from the period. Scurlock Studio was astute at reflecting the crosssection of black glamour.  Scurlock photographed black women and girls as they were: prosperous, carefree, elegant and fashionable in fur and sequins, nurturing and strong, and forever poised.  They were singers, writers, soldiers, dancers, athletes, mothers. The images offer a range of black femininity and force at a time in history when their visual representation was extremely limited.

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