The first black staff photographer hired at the New York Times, Don Hogan Charles, the man who shot the iconic photo of Malcolm X at a window with a rifle, has died.
Former New York Times staff writer Rachel Swarns tweeted the news on Sunday afternoon, prompting many of us to wonder where the Times obituary on Charles was.
We know from a Museum of Modern Art link that Charles was born in 1938.
Swarns linked off to an 2016 article on Charles from the Times which chronicled his amazing career shooting black people in our beautiful, amazing, humanity, especially during the Civil Rights Movement, especially north of the Mason-Dixon line. It reports:
But in the hundreds of other photographs that he shot, visible in the negatives of our archives, a fuller portrait of the neighborhood and Mr. Charles’s neighbors comes into view. The residents of his Harlem are fully rounded people, not caricatures, symbols or subjects to be studied. He had less than two days to shoot this assignment, but his subjects share a dignity that was often missing from much reporting of the era.
Though The Times was both lauded and vilified for its reporting from the front lines of the civil rights struggles in the South, there were few black journalists in the industry in those years beyond black news outlets. Major news media coverage of New York’s black neighborhoods often resembled overseas “parachute journalism” — a quick visit, conversations with a few residents on the street with a little seasoning from outside experts. In the following decades, many newspapers, including The Times, pushed along by lawsuits, added more black, Latino, Asian and female journalists.
While we’re waiting for the Times’ obit, we thought we’d share some of Charles’ images from Twitter: