As one of the oldest historically black college campuses in America, Hampton University (formerly Hampton Institute) has hosted many of the most important African American intellectuals, statesmen, and artists of modern times. Witnessing it all has been Reuben Burrell, who has served as campus photographer since 1949. A self-taught photographer, Burrell is a master craftsman, known for the sensitivity of his lens and the quality of his prints. On campus he is known as the griot, a West African term that encompasses both historian and poet.
This volume collects many of the best photographs from Burrell’s sixty years at Hampton and features unforgettable portraits of some of the most iconic figures of the twentieth century, including Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Miles Davis, Marian Anderson, James Baldwin, Ray Charles, and Duke Ellington. In addition to these great artists and leaders, Burrell has photographed Hampton’s own distinguished faculty and vibrant student body for over six decades. The result is a stunning visual chronicle of African American intellectual life in the twentieth century and beyond.
Distributed for the Hampton University Museum and Archives
Reuben V. Burrell is official Campus Photographer at Hampton University. Vanessa Thaxton-Ward is Curator of Collections at Hampton University Museum; her work has appeared in the International Review of African American Art and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography.