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An Unseen LightBlack Struggles for Freedom in Memphis, Tennessee$
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Aram Goudsouzian and Charles W. McKinney Jr.

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813175515

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813175515.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM KENTUCKY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.kentucky.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The University Press of Kentucky, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in KSO for personal use (for details see www.kentucky.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 12 December 2018

Taylor-Made

Taylor-Made

Envisioning Black Memphis at Midcentury

Chapter:
(p.107) Taylor-Made
Source:
An Unseen Light
Author(s):

Beverly Greene Bond

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813175515.003.0006

By the mid-1930s, Lonzie Odie (L. O.) Taylor was one of Memphis’s leading Baptist ministers. But his influence extended beyond the pulpits of the churches he pastored from the 1930s through the 1960s. A self-trained photographer and videographer, Taylor produced thousands of black-and-white photographs, 30,000 feet of color and black-and-white film, and 100 home-cut 78 rpm discs. While his sermons, essays, and poems served as commentaries on and guides for the internal spiritual lives of his congregants, Taylor’s photographs, films, and audio recordings chronicled the external lives and activities of his neighbors, his congregations, and his community. His explorations of African American life and culture are not reports on the brutality of oppression; instead, they are studies in the vitality of community life and personal identity in the segregated urban South. This essay investigates L. O. Taylor as both a product and a chronicler of his times. It examines his personal life, community activities, and creative works as frameworks for “envisioning” segregated Memphis from the 1920s through the 1950s.

Keywords:   Memphis, L. O. Taylor, Baptist minister, photography, community life

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