Within a few minutes of online research, though, I discovered two more photos taken on the same day in 1916 by Harris & Ewing at an Emancipation reunion. As the official White House photographers of the early 1900s and then the nation’s largest photo news service, they rarely snapped shots of African Americans.
But on that sunny fall afternoon, they posed a group of black mostly octogenarians and nonagenarians in front of Cosmopolitan Baptist Temple at Tenth and N Streets, NW.
Now propped on canes and dressed in their finest clothes, these men and women had spent the first four to five decades of their lives in slavery. That the four women in the initial photo all were centenarians—and strong enough and determined enough to stand—made the image all the more remarkable.