By Harry Colbert, Jr.,
Managing Editor –
Young reverends and activists, the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Rev. Jesse Jackson marching with the people … Rep. John Lewis, Coretta Scott King, Andrew Young, C. Delores Tucker, Rep. Walter Fauntroy – a then candidate for president – and others locked in arms in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. … a portrait of famed photographer and St. Paul native Gordon Parks.
They all have one thing in common – the man behind the lens that captured these iconic photos – Roy Lewis.
Lewis, a veteran photographer with Johnson Publishing (Ebony/Jet), the Washington Informer and photographer to the Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign, personal photographer to Amiri Baraka and Gwendolyn Brooks (to name a couple) and chronicler of the Civil Rights Movement, was recently honored for his nearly four decades-long career by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) during Black Press Week in Washington, D.C. The NNPA also honor the contributions of Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and Donna Brazile, former DNC chair. All were presented NNPA’s Torch Award – Lewis for Outstanding Leadership and Achievement in Photography, Henderson for Outstanding Leadership and Achievement in Civil and Human Rights and Brazile for Outstanding Leadership and Achievement in Political Empowerment.
In the world of photography Lewis is a legend among legends. He’s filmed John Coltrane, B.B. King … he garnered the trust and gained access to photograph the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. When Nelson Mandela toured the U.S. in 1990 following his release from a South African jail, Lewis was there to document it. He covered the White House administrations of Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He served as the manager of photographic services for Howard University (Washington, D.C.) and director of cinematography and production at Notre Dame University (Ind.).
Not bad for the child born in rural Natchez, Miss.
And Lewis shows no signs of slowing down. During Black Press Week, Lewis’ finger snapped away hundreds of times capturing the images of Washington dignitaries, publishers, NNPA guests and more. During the event in which he was honored, he acted less as an honoree and more as the dedicated journalist he is, capturing the moment.