“Through a Lens Darkly” film about African American history

    January 19, 2015 @ 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
    Loft Cinema
    3233 East Speedway Boulevard
    Tucson, AZ 85716


    Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers & the Emergency of a People

    Free Admission, one night only for MLK Day.

    The first documentary to explore the role of photography in shaping the identity, aspirations and social emergence of African Americans from slavery to present, Through a Lens Darkly traces the nearly 200-year struggle to counter demeaning and stereotyped images with positive and authentic ones, probing the recesses of American history by discovering photographs that have been suppressed, forgotten and lost.

    The story begins with slavery and the Civil War, followed by the call for new images by such leaders as Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B. Du Bois. Pioneer portraitists such as the Goodridge Brothers in Pennsylvania and James Vanderzee in Harlem paved the way for inspirational figures like Gordon Parks, Roy DeCarava, and Carrie Mae Weems. Bringing to light the hidden and unknown photos shot by both professional and amateur African American photographers, the films opens a fascinating window into the lives, experiences and perspectives of black families that is absent from the traditional historical canon.

    Inspired by Deborah Willis’ book Reflections in Black, photographer/filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris links the broader picture to his own personal and family history, crafting a moving, wide-ranging and often astonishing chronicle through lively interviews and an incredibly rich trove of unforgettable photographs. (Dir. by Thomas Allen Harris, 2014, USA, 92 mins., Not Rated)


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    Carolyn Classen
    Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for Tucsoncitizen.com for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, www.southernazjapan.org (since Jan. 2013).


    1. Fascinating & powerful film chronicling the history of black photographers (men & woman) through American history from the Civil War to the present. Horrible photos of “black face” caricatures, lynchings in the early 1920’s, brutality during civil rights movement were shown, but also beautiful family portraits of black families over the ages. Black is beautiful is true in this film.

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