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A journey through history: New Western Reserve Historical Society exhibit showcases a 20th century life through the lens of 2 Black photographers

One century later, the 'Partnership, Portraits and the Power of Photojournalism' exhibit shows you never-before-seen pictures by two pioneering Black photographers.

CLEVELAND — In a new exhibit at the Western Reserve Historical Society, vintage photographs take us back to the 1900s through the lens of two pioneering black photographers.

As history will remember it, the experience depicts "Partnership, Portraits and the Power of Photojournalism." Homage was paid Thursday by those who follow in the footsteps of two people that not only made history but bring it to our own eyes.

That legacy started with just two people: Allen E. and Francis T. Cole, who were pioneers of photography in Cleveland, predominantly among the Black community. The exhibit journeys you through just a handful of the over 6,000 prints and 30,000 negative photographs the Coles captured.

The collection commemorates the centenary of the establishment of the Coles' home-based studio in 1922 and the 10th anniversary of the publication of "Through the Lens of Allen E. Cole: A Photographic History of African Americans in Cleveland, Ohio" Dr. Regennia Williams, distinguished scholar of African American history and culture, is among those who know these photos best.

"I’m passionate about this history that's illustrated in this exhibit that we have in this space," Williams said. "[This is] Black history according to Allen E. and Francis T. Cole."

While in the museum gallery, you'll embrace snippets of Clevelanders in their prime, plus historic catastrophes and news outlets within the black community.

"It is a collage of people in Cleveland in a way that had never been captured before," President of the Greater Cleveland National Association of Black Journalists Kevin Heard stated. "It's like you can time travel back to those times, back to those days, and just imagine what those people's lives were like."

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