The Atlantic’s Inheritance: A project about American history, Black life, and the resilience of memory
Photograph by Hannah PriceToo much knowledge has been lost, too many stories distorted, too many people forgotten. We mourn for all we do not know. Yet the vision and resilience of Black America is shaping this nation. Our future demands that we unbury the past.
Since 1857 (when this publication was founded, in part, to further the cause of abolition), the Atlantic has explored the question of how the American narrative reflects the story of Black people. Inheritance is a multiyear project that endeavors to fill the blank pages of Black history: to piece together, through reporting and data, the crucial events and conversations that have been intentionally left out of America’s story.
Presented here is a collection of stories and original photography from Inheritance. You can read our latest chapter—a recognition, a celebration, and a reclamation of the Black body—and the first two chapters at theatlantic.com.
PRESENTED BYAlanna Fields (b. 1990, Maryland, USA) is a mixed-media artist and archivist whose work investigates and challenges representations of Black queer identity and history through the lens of photography. Fields’s work has been exhibited at Baxter St. Camera Club of New York, MoCADA, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, among others. She has forthcoming group exhibitions at the High Museum of Art, the Katherine E. Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota, and the Aldrich Museum. A Gordon Parks Foundation Scholar, Fields has participated in artist residencies at Light Work, Baxter St. CCNY, and Silver Art Projects, among others. Earning her MFA in photography from Pratt Institute, Fields has given talks at the Aperture Foundation, Stanford University, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Parson’s New School, Syracuse University, and Rutgers University. Fields lives and works in New York City and is represented by Assembly (www.assembly.art).
Raised in Fort Collins, Colorado, Hannah Price (b. 1986) is a photographic artist and filmmaker primarily interested in documenting relationships, race politics, and misperception. Price is internationally known for her project City of Brotherly Love (2009-2012), a series of photographs of the men who catcalled her on the streets of Philadelphia. In 2014, Price graduated from Yale School of Art’s MFA photography program, receiving the Richard Benson Prize for Excellence in Photography. Over the past nine years, Price’s photos have been displayed in several cities across the United States with a few residing in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Price became a Magnum nominee member in 2020 and currently lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.
Donavon Smallwood is a self-trained photographer who uses the medium as a means of exploring humankind, imagination, and nature. A native New Yorker, Smallwood received his B.A. from Hunter College in 2016 and has gone on to photograph for numerous editorial clients including the Atlantic, the New Yorker, the New York Times and others. In 2021, he received the Aperture Portfolio Prize and the Daylight Photo Award. “Languor,” his first monograph, is set to be published by Trespasser in fall 2021.
Akilah Townsend is a photographer and art director who was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Townsend seeks inspiration from cinema for her imagery, and is currently working on a project about her ancestors. Townsend has photographed for numerous editorial and commercial clients including the Atlantic, the New York Times, and Nike.Since 1857, the Atlantic has been a magazine of ideas—a home to the best writers and boldest minds, who bring clarity and original thinking to the most important issues of our time. Through our journalism, we aim to help our readers better understand the world and its possibilities as they navigate the complexities of daily life.