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WEB Dubois, A Pioneering Visual Practitioner

Picture this. The year is 1900 and the stage is the World's Fair in Paris, France. Two men arrive with the purpose of sharing their research on the current state of life for the recently emancipated American slave. One of those men is empirical data-obsessed Harvard grad W.E.B Du Bois who would become one of the most prominent African American intellectuals and civil rights activists of the early 20th century. But for now, how would he present the groundbreaking exhibition of a complex, uncharted subject? The answer is through 500 photographs, 200 books, and over 60 hand-drawn data charts and infographics. FAST COMPANY ARTICLE

I have always known W.E.B Du Bois as an African American intellectual, social activist and author of "The Souls of Black Folk", but I never knew of him as a visual practitioner. MORE ABOUT W.E.B DU BOIS

Those pioneering charts have been archived by the Library of Congress. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS ARCHIVE

W.E.B. Du Bois was a man of principal and purpose. What makes this discovery so special to me is that when one of the foremost data scientists of his day a choice in how to present important, painstaking research on the greatest stage he chose to go visual. It's further validation for our field on the power and timelessness of visual practice, how it can accompany and uplift virtually any subject matter, and how our visual fore-parents exist in all shades and sizes. 

Happy belated Black History Month,

Brandon Black