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WLOL broadcasters Kenneth Wilson (standing) and Albert Vant “Flash” Washington. 

More than 800 rare black and white photographs depicting life for area Blacks in the 1940s are on display at the Hennepin Gallery.  

“Black Twin Cities” features photographs of the Twin Cities African-American community, from the John F. Glanton Collection. Selections will be on view in Hennepin Gallery, at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, 300 6th St. S.

After military service in World War II, John Glanton (1923-2004) worked for a few years as a professional photographer. He captured dozens of family gatherings, social events, musical performances, church functions, sporting events and individual portraits in the African-American communities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. His photographs provide a rare look into the personal, professional, and social lives of what was then a very small community in postwar, pre-civil rights era Twin Cities. Today, we have forgotten many of these people’s names.

A wonderful discovery

After Glanton’s death, his niece’s husband, Anthony Scott, discovered the collection of more than 800 photographic negatives in the late photographer’s garage. Scott recognized the photographs’ importance and contacted the Hennepin County Library for help. Through a painstaking process, library staff cleaned and scanned each negative and held public events for community support to identify as many of the people in the photographs as possible. In collaboration with the Glanton family, the library has made these images available to the public.

Find the photos online

In addition to the photographs on display in this exhibit, people can view all 821 John F. Glanton photographs in the library's digital collections at www.hclib.org/digitalcollections. A selection of 200 images, along with commentary that further illuminates the lives and experiences of African-Americans in postwar Minnesota, are featured in “Double Exposure: Images of Black Minnesota in the 1940s.” The book is available for checkout at Hennepin County Library.

The Hennepin Gallery is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Hennepin County Government Center, A-level, 300.

This exhibit is presented by Hennepin County Library Special Collections. The Gallery is a project of Hennepin County Communications.

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