A Photographer of Note
Ordinary life through an extraordinary lens
In a selection of more than one hundred black and white images taken over a period of sixty years, this book bears witness to the life of a remarkable photographer and to small-town African American life in the middle of the twentieth century. Geleve Grice was born and raised near Pine Bluff, and he has documented the ordinary life of his community: parades, graduations, weddings, club events, and whatever else brought people together. In the process he has created a remarkable historical portrait of an African American community. Through his lens we glimpse the daily patterns of segregated Pine Bluff, and we also participate in the excitement of greeting extraordinary visitors. Martin Luther King Jr., Mary McLeod Bethune, Harry S. Truman, and others all came through town.
Folklorist Robert Cochran worked with Grice to select these photographs
from the thousands he has taken across a lifetime. They organized
the work chronologically, reflecting Grice's early years in small-town
Arkansas, his travel as a serviceman in World War II, and his long
career in Pine Bluff. Cochran's accompanying chapters link Grice
to the great tradition of American community photographers. He
also shows how work for pay-at the Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical
and Normal College in Pine Bluff; at the Arkansas State Press daily
newspaper; through his own
"A great book! These are wonderful images embedded in a very important story. At last we see, vividly and intimately, a complex world that has for too long remained obscured. Grice's images and Cochran's text transform and deepen our vision."
Tom Rankin, executive director of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University
"Striking images reveal celebrities and ordinary folks at moments of celebration and of sadness. They show scenes of black life in the South that are too seldom seen, of people living lives of great dignity even amidst social burdens. Bob Cochran's narrative is a triumph of documentary work. A splendid achievement!"
Charles Reagan Wilson,
Geleve Grice has been a commercial photographer in Pine
Bluff, Arkansas, for more than sixty years. Robert Cochran is a professor
of English and the director of the Center for Arkansas and Regional Studies
at the University of Arkansas. His books include Singing
in Zion (Arkansas, 1999).