A wonderful and amazing story in today’s NY Times from Annie Correal that started when she passed by a brownstone in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and saw a photo album sticking out of the trash. She couldn’t leave it there. And that’s journalism kids.
She had to track down the families and places depicted in the photos that showed a black family and friends ranging from the South, to WWII to Harlem to Brooklyn, in in so doing uncovered a living microcosm of the history of the people in this part of the world in the 20th century.
Ike and Etta Mae Taylor lived the Great Migration of blacks leaving the Jim Crow South, coming to Harlem, then leaving there as it declined and transforming the outer boroughs (Crown Heights was 95% white in 1950 and 87% black by 1970, now going back again to a gentrified mix of white hipsters, black and Latino – represented by the writer herself).
For a few years, Etta Mae and I shared the block. Our bedroom windows looked out on the same backyards, and every day, she must have walked past my house, though I can’t recall if I ever actually saw her.
It’s just a great transfixing yarn as Annie Correal tracks down the living people who can put the pieces together about the people in the yellowed photographs.