#BlackWomenSave Reginald Cunningham

Maya Angelou once said, “If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform a million realities.” I believe the same can be said about stories. And if we’re being honest, Black women deserve more consistent praise. From Michelle Obama to the every day woman fighting for her own communities, we can never celebrate them enough.

DC-based photographer Reginald Cunningham would agree. As the creator of the #PureBlack movement, Cunningham  is used to highlighting the best elements of our culture. With his new photography project #BlackWomenSave for Women’s History Month, he’s looking to do the same.

The project, which highlights people sharing life-saving moments per Black women, is a deeply personal look at how women come to our rescue. We spoke with the creative about making room for stories about women, honoring our personal histories, and being inspired by Jesse Williams.

 

EBONY:
I love that you focus on everyday Black women for this project. Why is it important for you to share these stories?

Reginald Cunningham: I thought it was important not only to celebrate the Black women we always celebrate, but to bring light to all of our personal heroes that are Black women, who often go unheralded. These are the Black women who are saving and changing lives every single day that no one knows about.

EBONY: What’s the story behind the tag?

RC: I wanted to do something to honor Black women specifically for women’s history month. Last year, I posted facts about Black women in history every day of the month with the hashtag which got some coverage from different online publications. I thought about doing that again this year, but I really wanted to do something different. Since I’m a photographer, I wanted that to tie in with what I was doing, and the idea just came to me to photograph people telling their own histories and stories. I literally came up with the idea for the project a day or so before Women’s History Month started!

 

EBONY: We’ve discussed the effects of the “Superwoman Syndrome/Myth” – Black women taking care of everyone else at the cost of not taking care of themselves. How does help us break away from that ideology?

RC: It’s interesting because with everyone who I photograph, I ask them what made them choose their person. For those who chose their mothers, this idea often came up. I often mention my mother who raised five children, mostly as a single mother, fought cancer, etc., and we discuss how we often fight to remind the Black women in our lives that it’s okay to take care of themselves too! I think helps us normalize this trope in a sense, because we’re talking about normal everyday women. These are the women you see on the train on your way to work, the teachers at your children’s schools, the mentors, the aunts, the sisters and so on. I think what Jesse Williams said about Black people applies even more to Black women in that they are magic, but they are real.

EBONY: What’s your story?

RC: Honestly, I haven’t narrowed down who I’m going to share for mine yet! That’s horrible, right? One I can share with you is of one of my mother’s best friends, Danita Malone. She is…amazing. When I was finishing grad school the first time, there was an issue where administration kind of screwed me [and] my financial aid wasn’t going to come through. I thought I was going to have to drop out with one class left and a 4.0 GPA because of money. When my mother shared with her what was happening, she instantly offered a great sum of money to ensure that I finished school. At my graduation party, I gave her my hood from my robe. I told her it was every bit as much hers as it was mine. She’s always been a source of wisdom in my life, and has always sought to remind me of my power and worth.

Keep up with this powerful series on Instagram: http://instagram.com/pureblackphotos


Melissa Kimble is the Senior Social Media Manager for the EBONY brand. An advocate for Black Creatives via #blkcreatives, you can connect with her on Twitter at @Melissa_Kimble.



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