Snapshots of a Century In African American Lives
Edited by Jennifer Cain Bohrnstedt
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (12/09)
“Snapshots of a Century In African American Lives,” an absolutely stunning collection of snapshots celebrating African-Americans, is nostalgic and eye-opening at the same time. The first thought that struck me after leafing through the collection initially was how wonderfully diverse and colorful this collection was, showing us so many different faces and facets of life. Some of the photographs are posed, more often than not celebrating an important moment in that person’s life, maybe a graduation, a wedding or a family get-together. Still, others are candid shots, wonderful snippets of days gone by and moments in time never to be repeated.
Showing us how people lived, loved, worked, celebrated, worshipped and more, all of those photographs provide invaluable documents of every day life in America. Nowadays it is somewhat easy to forget just how special photography was back in the days, way before nearly everybody owned a cell phone with a camera, when one had to snap a shot and take the camera to a shop to have the pictures developed, not knowing whether the special moment they were trying to capture actually did get caught on film properly. Those snapshots were far more important and more cherished than the thousands of pictures taken casually and posted all over the Internet in recent times.
I have greatly enjoyed this wonderful collection of photographs. While I sometimes wished that they would have captions and provide some background info, it was also nice to just look at them and invent little stories for people captured therein, or simply enjoy them as they are, a collection of valuable insights into the lives of African-Americans in all their diversity, showing scenes from a side of life not enough people are aware of. This book should find a permanent spot in the personal library of anybody wishing to know and understand America, and definitely not just African-Americans. A keepsake, a reminder and a monument to rich history rolled into one deceptively slim volume, “Snapshots of a Century In African American Lives” edited by Jennifer Cain Bohrnstedt is a joyful celebration of those who overcame.