“He [Roy DeCarava] had a capacity for not making the nooks and crannies of poverty the subject of his work,” said Gregory Baggett, a historian at Columbia University. “Harlem was a means to a bigger picture of human interaction.”
Born in an America where blacks couldn’t share water fountains with whites, but dying in one that elected a black president, DeCarava played his own part in the civil rights saga of the past 60 years. He was an active member of the Committee to End Discrimination Against Black Photographers and engaged in protests against Life magazine’s discriminatory hiring practices in the ’60s. But his photography itself broke down barriers.