Charles “Teenie” Harris’s work brought him into frequent contact with the political process. As a photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, Harris photographed candidates and rallies, activists and polling places. He documented those organizing around the Voting Rights Act, which went into effect August 6, 1965, prohibiting racial discrimination in the nation’s voting process.
Charles “Teenie” Harris Photographs: Elections brings together three eminent guest curators to reflect upon Harris’s work covering elections, looking toward the presidential elections of 2020. They include Harold Hayes, former KDKA News reporter; Michael Keaton, actor and political activist; and Pittsburgh City Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle, whose District 6 includes Downtown Pittsburgh, the Hill District, and parts of Oakland and the North Side.
I’m honored to be part of the guest curator team for the Charles “Teenie” Harris Photographs: Elections. As a teenager, I remember Teenie taking pictures for the Courier, covering the Frogs Club social events, and how he’d take that one shot and, with a flair, pop out that used flashbulb and throw it in his pocket. By the time I got to KDKA, Teenie had retired, but still shot events on occasion. I was always in awe of his skill. In reviewing part of his vast collection, I’m even more of a fan.
—Harold Hayes, former KDKA News Anchor
I grew up and got my start in Pittsburgh during a time when Charles “Teenie” Harris was active, and he is one of my favorite photographers. What I find most impressive is the way he worked as an insider, documenting the communities around him, particularly the political struggles of African Americans during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Voting rights gains made during this time are under threat across the country, so I jumped at the opportunity to look at this critical issue through Teenie’s lens.
—Michael Keaton, Actor and Activist
I enjoy viewing Charles “Teenie” Harris’s photos because they provide me with a lens into how great our community once was. They inspire me, as a City Councilman, to ensure that greatness is restored. On a more personal note, I have two of Charles “Teenie” Harris’s photos that he signed and gave to my grandfather hanging on the wall in my office. They serve as a constant reminder of the importance of my work.
—R. Daniel Lavelle, Pittsburgh City Councilman
About the Charles “Teenie” Harris Archive
Charles “Teenie” Harris (1908–1998) photographed Pittsburgh’s African American community from ca. 1935 to ca. 1975. His archive of more than 70,000 images is one of the most detailed and intimate records of the Black experience known today. Purchased by Carnegie Museum of Art in 2001, the Charles “Teenie” Harris Archive was established to preserve Harris’s important photographic work for future generations. Thanks to the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Carnegie Museum of Art has digitized more than 70,000 of Harris’s negatives, and the collection is available to browse online.
Browse the Archive →