Charles “Teenie” Harris

Westmoreland Museum of American Art

Charles “Teenie” Harris (1908–98) was hired in 1939 as a freelance photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, a widely circulating African-American newspaper. For the next forty-some years he covered the local scene: He took pictures of steelworkers, Negro League baseball players, and neighborhood kids; he made portraits of a coal miner, a female disc jockey, a soda jerk, and a policeman; he photographed visiting leaders like John F. Kennedy, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Martin Luther King Jr. as well as protesters against racial segregation; and he snapped celebrities, including Duke Ellington, Joe Louis, Paul Robeson, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. In all he shot about 100,000 photographs for the paper.

But his most extraordinary achievement may have been his recording of nonevents. Born to a relatively well-off family in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, which in the ’30s was a center for

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