Saturday, July 12, 2008

Where In The World Is Don Hogan Charles?

I learned this morning, December 27, 2017 that Don Hogan Charles passed earlier this month. He was a most amazing man who lived an extraordinary life. He helped guide me through the maze of poverty pimps in Harlem in the 1990's when I was doing the How To Compute community training as part of my work for the Computer Underground Railroad. He let me know who were the good guys and who functioned from the level of pimpdom. We laughed a lot. His camera eye was nothing short of brilliant. He loved his community, Harlem.

When I got run out of Harlem back in '97-'98 he said to me, 'You did your job. You did good. Now get onto your next mission.' I found the extra courage I needed to go forward. I am grateful for Don Hogan Charles. If you get a chance to check out his work, you will never see the world the same way if you focus. His lense proved what the Will Smith movie title says, that no matter what the situation, there is always "Collateral Beauty".


Don Hogan Charles, who was the first black photographer to be hired by The New York Times, and who drew acclaim for his evocative shots of the civil rights movement and everyday life in New York, died on Dec. 15 in East Harlem. He was 79.
His niece Cherylann O’Garro, who announced the death, said his family did not yet know the cause.
In more than four decades at The Times, Mr. Charles photographed a wide range of subjects, from local hangouts to celebrities to fashion to the United Nations. But he may be best remembered for the work that earned him early acclaim: his photographs of key moments and figures of the civil rights era."

I died 3 years ago from a grand mal seizure. What I learned from that experience is that we don't die. There comes a point(s) where our spirit leaves our bodies, but I saw enough on the other side to know we don't die. So THANK YOU DON HOGAN CHARLES for a life well lived, while enriching ours.

Below is the original articles I posted back in 2008 when I demanded the web turn him over to me. He was sick at the time. I still blame it on those damn sewers that surround Harlem. Since we don't die, we multiply, part of my life is a multiplication of his.

July, 2008

'Cause honey you know, Don Hogan Charles is doing fine.'

J O Y!!!

The web is once again a way to make great connections.

I spoke with Don Hogan Charles. He is still in Harlem living as an independent photographer. He's one of those great unsung heroes who keeps on keeping on no matter what. We didn't speak long, but this post made it to his family, who, bless their hearts, got the word to him. Now he has time to create a most amazing series of books and videos from his half century plus of brilliant photography.

The New York Times is run by fools in my opinion. From selling their building in Times Square to not holding onto key talent, they've taken the paper that my grandfather swore by, lifted himself up with, and turned it into a mouthpiece for the story of 19 lucky Arabs on 9/11. How to solve World Trade Center Illness should be a priority since they failed to question the EPA when it said the air was safe to breathe and the water safe to drink on 9/13. It's what happens when the priority changes from news/truth to profits instead of a balance.

Below is my original post dated November 7, 2007 at 7:29 A.M.

I called the New York Times to reach the Black American trail blazer Don Hogan Charles to find out that he is gone with no forwarding address, phone or email. Does anyone know where he is or what happened?

I can find no posted notice of him leaving the paper? I emailed folks at the New York Times and asked on the phone but no answer more than a week later. He worked there about 40 years, giving Harlem a voice in mainstream media.

What's also troubling is I can find no thank you to him for being the New York Times first Black photographer.

It was Malcolm X who recommended (more drama than that world contains) Don for the job at the Times. He delivered the shot of Malcolm X at a window with a gun, an image reflected in the current Black on Black murder rate as Malcolm's gun was pointed at thugs in the neighborhood for openers.

I am working on a project regarding restoring peace and prosperity to the inner city. Addressing the violence is the first step. I need Don to discuss strategy, as he is one of the greatest strategist I've ever known.

My x brother in law, Chauncey Bailey, was murdered this summer in Oakland and I did a YouTube reading of his prophetic article GENOCIDE OR HOMICIDE: BLACK ON BLACK MURDER.

I'm working on the next video. With a goal of solving the problem, I wanted to get Don on video talking about what drove Malcolm X to take a gun to his own religion. What was it like back in the 60's to make a smart man take a gun to his window? How did the rest of the community respond? Can Don go back to that building (spot) all these years later? What would Malcolm see today and what observations does he think the man with a gun would share?

There is a video up that says in 2005 there were about 50 murders in Harlem. That's a 45 block area. Of course the closing will be Don's recommendations for Harlem and New York.

Don has the grace to see the world with his extraordinary vision. He's dedicated his being to his craft. I'm sure his observations would be healing.

When my friends and I were teaching thousands of folks in dis-empowerment zone Harlem as the Computer Underground Railroad how to use a computer, Don would frequently show up with encouragement and wisdom.

I remember after doing a 13 hour training day, and he doing a full day's work at the Times, he would come at the end of the day, tell the folks 'it's 9:00, let Nayer rest, good night.'

The presence of his spirit and camera at a training I was doing with a 92 year old great Harlem Lady, Roxanna Dawson, raised her spirit enough for her to say after learning the mouse, 'if I can do it, the rest of you have no excuse.' Wherever Don is, higher standards are set.

I was fighting dragon level poverty pimps who would have taken me out years earlier without Don's wisdom. By the time the poverty pimps knew what I was doing and closed the training down, we had already helped over 3,000 folks learn how to use a computer. The cost of the training was that it be passed onto at least two other folks.

As a Harlem environmentalist, his wisdom was key, part of a mastermind alliance, when I was sorting out the problem of Harlem being surrounded by 5 sewers and the impact that was having on the infant mortality rate.

Or when the school on Harlem's upper east side (140's) that was an old dry cleaner and was converted to a school without proper clean up, it was Don who pointed out that the chemicals had probably seeped into the groundwater and more than just the children at the school have been exposed. I was able to add that information to my Harlem as an environmental disaster area presentation. Not that the poverty pimps did anything with the information, but at least they were warned.

So you see why I am concerned that this hero is allowed to just drop out without as much as a webpage on what happened, where and how he is, and what is he working on now. Did he at least get a publishing deal?

After 25 years in NYC, I left Harlem in '98 and live in Arizona now, so walking to his building isn't an option.

So I'm asking in this format too as I continue my search.

Am I seeing on the internet the first Black photographer at the New York Times trashed, without as much as a webpage on his ground breaking work over the decades?

The press gave us more than enough fill of Jayson Blair, and is quiet on the historic, wonderful career of Don Hogan Charles.

His photos of the building moving down the street still make me smile. His portraits are inspiring because he knows how to capture the soul too.

I want to make sure he knows how brilliant and appreciated his work is.

It would be a shame before God to let this great artist, who served his craft and community, drop off the map without the honor he's earned.


amelie said...

i m so happy to read your post!
I m a young french photographer. I m in New York right now, and i really want to talk to Don Hogan Charles.
It s in relation with a project done by another photographer. They know eachother, so...
Do you have his email adress or phone number, it would help me a Lot.

Amélie Lucas

Unknown said...

I am also looking for Mr. Charles to find information about a photograph of his which was reprinted in Gourmet magazine. I would appreciate it if you would provide me with his contact information.