Author Archives: Yona Harvey, Poet and Author

The Missing Made Visible: In the Footsteps of Teenie Harris


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Forrest “Bud” Harris; Teenie Harris at the 1968 Pittsburgh riots, 1968; Bud Harris Photograph Collection, ca. 1950s-2007, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh.

I’m standing alongside a life-sized photograph of police in riot gear. The image has obviously been enlarged, stretching body-length along the wall of an incline intimately holding 25 of Teenie Harris’s civil rights images. I’m jolted standing near the police like this—maybe what the curator intended? How not think of Ferguson, Missouri and Sanford, Florida? The inevitable moments of unrest that bind us? Whenever I view Harris’s photographs feelings of familiarity, uncertainty, and great curiosity surface. I recognize beloved icons like Louis Armstrong, Mary Lou Williams, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many more who were hosted and supported by Pittsburgh’s black residents—laboring, posing, and protesting across time. Traversing the city, I look for their footprints at every moment. I am assembling the missing pieces of my adopted home.

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