James Van Der Zee was an African American Photographer born in 1886. He was a pioneer during the Harlem Renaissance and is best known for his amazing portraits of black New Yorkers. The likes of Marcus Garvey and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson just to name a couple of well known and iconic figures from our past.
In addition to being an accomplished and nationally recognized photographer, he was also an extremely talented pianist and violinist in very tough times in American history. A time, during which many African Americans were denied basic rights, let alone an exploration of the arts.
It is amazing to think how much change and progress James witnessed in his life, having lived until 1983. We admire his commitment and dedication to the arts throughout a very long life. James has frequently been honored for his contribution to US History, especially in Harlem, NY and we honor him here today with a post to celebrate great Americans during Black History Month!