What might have been.

A post office custodian by day, African-American photographer Richard S. Roberts maintained a studio in Columbia, South Carolina’s segregated business district. Between 1920 and 1936, he created a prodigious visual archive of Black life in the city.

Roberts captured the arresting image below circa 1926. The undertaker firm is believed to be Manigault-Gaten-Williams, and it is reasonable to think that a high-end Darden and Sons funeral in Wilson might have looked much the same way.

Treat yourself to A True Likeness: The Black South of Richard Samuel Roberts 1920-1936, an extraordinary compilation of this artist’s work. I am painfully reminded of the lost oeuvre of George W. “Picture-Taking” Barnes, Ray J. Dancy, John H.W. Baker, and other Wilson photographers.

One comment

  1. The African American community has always taken ultimate honor in burying their deceased; this picture is , indeed, a stellar example. As a result, we stand firm in the preservation of their sacred burial spaces for this is the right and obligation of any people. Our work, in this regard, is the rule , and we will not allow it to be viewed as the exception.

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