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Hernandez conducted many photography programs and exhibits with children

in Ghana, Cuba, the United States and other countries.  His latest project was in Mali. 



Nestor Hernandez 1960- 2006


The death of our friend and colleague Nestor Hernandez saddens us.  Hernandez died after a short battle with cancer.  He was the photographer for many of our covers including the “Our Cuban Cousins” issue.  Hernandez was of African-Cuban and African-American descent.  Two of our staff members had the great opportunity to travel with him to Cuba, a country he loved, and to visit our brethren in Cuba.

The current administration's policies prevented him from returning to the island nation.
Hernandez conducted many photography programs and exhibits with children in Ghana, Cuba, the United States and other countries.  His latest project was in Mali. 
With Port of Harlem, he developed the “Our Children, Our World,” photography exhibit featuring the works of children from Ghana, Cuba, Washington, D.C., and Gary, IN.   After a successful run in Washington, D.C., the exhibit opens in Gary this summer, very sadly without Hernandez, as an official event celebrating Gary’s 100th anniversary.  It is our honor to dedicate the exhibition his honor as a mellow, easy-to-work with brother and gifted photographer.
As with many artists, Hernandez died with little money.  Burial contributions are being accepted by his father:
      Nestor L. Hernandez
      5401B- Annapolis Rd.
      Bladensburg,MD 20710


An exhibit of Hernandez’s work will open in Baltimore on June 17, right across from  Pratt Central  at the reopening  of the new Baltimore hostel. -- Herbert

posted 17 May 2006

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Scattered Treasures

Losing the Legacy of Photographer Nestor Hernandez, Jr. 

By Donna M. Wells


About two weeks ago, it was brought to the attention of the local African American photography community that the photographs, negatives, portfolios, camera equipment, and photography books belonging to Nestor Hernandez, Jr. were being sold by two vendors at the 6th street and Florida Avenue flea market.  Nestor was a locally based award winning documentary photographer who died in 2006 at the age of 45.  

Although he is recognized for his work as the official photographer for the Children’s Museum and for DC Public Schools, he is best known among his peers for his extensive body of work documenting the people and culture of persons of African descent.  During the last years of his life, he devoted his time to cultural exchange ventures which linked like-minded photographers from around the world. 

Between 1978 and 2003, he made eighteen trips to Cuba, initially making personal connections with his Cuban family.  For his last three trips, he invited American photographers to accompany him to meet and discuss photography with Cuban photographers which resulted in two comprehensive exhibits both in Cuba and in Washington, DC. 

Nestor’s photo prints were being sold for an appalling $3.00 each at the market.  Working with members of a local photography association, we learned that Nestor’s father had placed his son’s collection in a self-storage unit at a commercial facility after Nestor died in 2006.  The father never told the rest of the family and when he himself died unexpectedly a year later, the bill for the storage unit remained unpaid until it was auctioned off recently.  The family is devastated by the loss and this echoes what has happened around the country with family collections, like the Malcolm X Papers and the photographs of Teenie “One Shot” Harris, for example.

The photography community is equally devastated by the loss and by the way Nestor’s legacy is being scattered to the winds.  The vendors informed us that everything had already been sold although they were previously apprised of the situation and were made an offer to purchase everything that was left.  An arts attorney said that nothing could be done about the prints since the storage bin sale was legitimate.  However, the creative rights to print from the negatives remains with the family regardless of the fact that the vendors claim they don’t know who they sold them to. 

The bigger picture is that we need to be more aggressive in protecting family collections, not just in the preservation sense, but in the security of our belongings. The current economic conditions have forced many families to lose their homes and family papers and other treasures are being left behind or lost in the process.  At the same time, venues such as eBay and the Antique Roadshow encourage many of us to see dollar signs on items hanging on the walls and gracing the shelves of our homes.  As guardians of family collections, or as a business person like Nestor, we need to be diligent about informing a trusted family member about the business and about the location and disposal of family collections.  In this high tech environment, this also includes keeping track of and sharing with family members the passwords to e-mail accounts, on-line business services, and website domains.   

This Historical Society of Washington, DC, the Exposure Group African American Photographers Association, and the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University are hosting a forum to address this issue on October 15th, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Historical Society.  The situation will be discussed from a variety of perspectives and the panelists will include an archivist, a member of the Hernandez family, a copyright specialist, an arts attorney, and a collector.  This event is free and open to the public.

Speakers include:

Syreeta N. Swann Joseph, Copyright specialist; Larry Frazier, Attorney for Wills, Estates & Probate Law; Philip Merrill, Founder of Nanny Jack & Co., author, historian, and former appraiser of Black Memorabilia on PBS' Antiques Roadshow; Allan Stypeck

Owner of Second Story Books / Senior Member; Yvonne Hernandez, Sister, Nestor Hernandez, Jr.; Donna M. Wells, Prints and Photo Librarian at Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University, author, historian, co-author of Legacy: Treasures of Black History

Historical Society of Washington, DC / 801 K Street, NW / Washington, DC 20001

Donna M. Wells / Prints and Photographs Librarian / Moorland-Spingarn Research Center / Howard University / 500 Howard Place, NW / Washington, DC 20059 / (202) 806-7480 / fax:  (202) 806-6405  


The photographs of Nestor Hernández, Jr.—Nestor Hernandez, Jr. departed this life on Friday, May 12, 2006 in Washington, DC. He was 45. Nestor will be missed by the many, many people whose lives he touched.

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A History of African-American Artists

From 1792 to the Present

By Romare Bearden and Harry Henderson

The late Romare Bearden, a premier African American artist in his own right, devoted 15 years to researching and writing this magnificent study of the lives and achievements of 36 significant African American artists born prior to 1925. He and longtime friend and coauthor Henderson were motivated by frustration over the lack of literature on black artists. Through great perseverance and determination, they managed to track down forgotten artwork, piece together vivid biographical portraits, and conduct interviews with surviving artists, who, in spite of their stature and longevity, had never before been interviewed. As Bearden and Henderson set the scene, historically speaking, for such artists as Robert S. Duncanson, Edmonia Lewiss, and Henry Ossawa Tanner, they expose the degree to which racism limited opportunities for black artists. The life stories of the artists associated with the Black Renaissance during the 1920s—such as Aaron Douglas; Archibald Motley, the first painter to boldly celebrate urban African American society; and sculptor and influential mentor Augusta Savage—are recorded with consummate insight, as are accounts of the giants of the Depression era, Beauford Delaney and Jacob Lawrence.

 Richly illustrated and written with resounding empathy and pride, this is a major contribution to the literature on African American history and to the annals of American art.Booklist 

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The Shameful Life of Salvador Dali

By Ian Gibson

In his detailed and excellent book on Salvador Dali, Ian Gibson has documented Dali’s identification with fascism in Spain from the very beginning. During the civil war, Dali never came out in support of the Republic.  He did not collaborate, for example, in the Paris Fair in 1937, where Picasso presented his Guernica, aimed at raising funds for the Republican cause.  And he soon made explicit his sympathies for the fascist coup of 1936 and for the dictatorship that it established in a letter to Buñuel, a well-known filmmaker in Spain. 

He made explicit and known his admiration for the figure and writing of the founder of the Spanish fascist party (La Falange), José Antonio Primo de Rivera, and used in his speeches and writings the fascist narrative and expressions (such as the fascist call “Arriba España”), referring to the special role Spain had in promoting the imperial dreams over other nations.  He sympathized with the anti-Semitic views of Hitler and celebrated Franco’s alliance with Hitler and Mussolini against France, Great Britain and the United States.  

 He also welcomed the “solution to the national problem” in vogue in Nazi and fascist circles at that time.Dali became the major defender of the Franco dictatorship in the artistic world.  He was also, as Spanish fascism was, very close to the Church and to the Vatican of Pope Pius XII, indicating that modern art needed to be based on Christianity.  His loyalty to the fascist dictatorship continued to the very end, defending the state terrorist policies that included political assassinations, even in the last moments of that dictatorship.—counterpunch

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Malcolm X

A Life of Reinvention

By Manning Marable

Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist.

Of the great figure in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins' bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world.

Manning Marable's new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties.

Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most singular forces for social change, capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.

Pulitzer Prize for History 2012 Winner—For a distinguished and appropriately documented book on the history of the United States, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000). Awarded to Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, by the late Manning Marable (Viking), an exploration of the legendary life and provocative views of one of the most significant African-Americans in U.S. history, a work that separates fact from fiction and blends the heroic and tragic. (Moved by the Board from the Biography category.)—Pulitzer

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 17 April 2012




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Related files:    Scattered Treasures: Nestor Hernandez