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Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022

There’s a photography exhibition opening in Charlottesville next week that will display the professionally taken portraits of nearly 200 local African Americans taken in the early 20th Century. These pictures were made when Jim Crow laws enforced racial segregation throughout society, cities across the South erected statues memorializing the Confederacy and a group of Charlottesville residents attempted to lynch two Black men at the jail.

But the portraits tell a different story. 

A black and white photograph shows a man sitting down and looking directly at the camera. He wears slacks and a jacket, a plaid waistcoat, a white shirt and tie. His left hand sits in his lap and his right hand holds a match to a cigarette dangling from his mouth.
Credit: Courtesy of Holsinger Studio Collection, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia

While Charlottesville erected Confederate monuments, hundreds of African American residents were sitting for professional portraits

“What’s been slighted is the history of what Black people were doing, as they used to say, behind the veil of Jim Crow,” said John Mason, a history professor at UVA and co-director of the Holsinger Studio Portrait Project. The Jim Crow era was also the New Negro era, when African Americans of varied socio-political factions were using the phrase to describe, among other things, “a new spirit, a new energy, a new way of seeing themselves,” said Mason.

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In brief: Former Charlottesville police chief one of three finalists to lead Minneapolis Police Department

Two cities that have faced major racial reckonings in recent years are hiring new police chiefs: Charlottesville and Minneapolis

Charlottesville hired a D.C.-based firm to help find its next chief in July. Minneapolis hired a search firm in March and has now narrowed its candidates down to three. On their list: former Charlottesville Police Chief Rashall Brackney.

Brackney led Charlottesville’s police department after the deady Unite the Right rally of 2017, An independent report found that city officials and law enforcement made mistakes in preparing for and responding to the event, and that many residents distrusted police. Among the reforms she made was the disbanding of the SWAT (special weapons and tactics) team and terminating or suspending officers for conduct. She was fired by then City Manager Chip Boyles in 2021 because, as he later said, officers did not support her.

Brackney sued Charlottesville, nine city officials and the head of a police union alleging wrongful termination and prejudice in June. The city has since asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed because it says Brackney was terminated because top officials in the department were planning to leave under her leadership, and to “ensure the viability” of the police department, not because of race or gender. 

Brackney is one of three candidates to lead the Minneapolis Police Department, which also needs to improve its community relationships after police shootings and the murder of George Floyd. The other candidates are Southfield, Michigan Police Chief Elvin Barren and Brian O’Hara, deputy mayor of Newark, New Jersey.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey will make the final call, which he will do “in the coming weeks,” according to a city news release.

Thanks for reading,

Jessie Higgins, managing editor

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I'm Charlottesville Tomorrow's managing editor and health and safety reporter. If there’s something you think we should be investigating, please email me at jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org! And you can follow all the work we do by subscribing to our free newsletter! Hablo español, y quiero mantener a la comunidad hispanohablante informada. Si tienes preguntas o información que debo saber, por favor, envíame un correo electrónico a jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org.