Getty Black History & Culture Collection
Photography courtesy of Getty Images

Everyone Should Know About Getty’s Black History & Culture Collection

By offering no-cost access to tens of thousands of images, the commercial site is on a mission to create a broader and more accurate representation of Black culture — including Black beauty — throughout the decades.

From political activists to musical greats, Black trailblazers have challenged the status quo and broken barriers, making it possible for the community to be seen and appreciated. Honouring these individuals is the focus of the Black History & Culture Collection — a photo bank created by Getty that launched last summer with over 30,000 images dating from the 1800s to today. The collection provides educational institutions, media outlets and content creators with free and improved access to rarely seen images for non-commercial purposes. The goal? Fostering more authentic representation and storytelling.

“This is an opportunity to highlight amazing content buried within our archives that shows how Black culture has been involved in the mainstream,” says Cassandra Illidge, vice-president of content and brand partnerships at Getty and the lead on the project. “We have only scratched the surface of the amount of photography and stories that have not been explored around the Black community and its impact on history.”

Illidge and her team partnered closely with internationally recognized researchers, historians, and educators, like visual artist and NYU professor Deborah Willis. “We lived a lifetime of denying Black presence in beauty and fashion. Some of the images that circulated during the 19th [and 20th] centuries dehumanized Black people,” states Willis. “This archive is evidence — simply as that. I see it as a cure for the racist images that have been circulated for hundreds of years.”

Below, we spotlight a handful of Black men and women who have paved paths and influenced beauty and fashion along the way.

A condensed version of this article first appeared in FASHION’s Winter issue. Find out more here.

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