This exhibition of Chicago’s South Side of African Americans is based on a conversation with my shipmates on the deck of an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. “We don’t know the enemy and he doesn’t know us. Why are we fighting?”

I wondered then that if we knew each other better it might make a difference. So after the war, I applied for a Guggenheim Fellowship to explore with my camera the commonalities of man. This exhibition and book are the results of those naïve dreams. My goal was not to photograph blacks but people, to capture some of the drives we all share regardless of color or culture. I was paid the ultimate compliment that every documentary photographer hopes for: I was ignored and allowed to share their lives.


I was born and raised in Chicago, went to the University of Illinois where I made photographs for the daily newspaper and Year Book, studied for a year at the Los Angeles Art Center, was a member of Edward Steichen's World War II US Navy Combat Photo Unit and spent four years in the Pacific, Atlantic, Mediterranean and Indian Ocean areas.
After the war I worked as a photojournalist for LIFE, EBONY, COLLIERS, FORTUNE and LADIES' HOME JOURNAL, as well as on my Fellowship and teaching at the Chicago Institute of Design. I remember those years as being the golden age of photojournalism when the camera told the story. The photographer led and the reporter carried your equipment.

I was associate curator for The Family of Man exhibit and book at New York's Museum of Modern Art, a contract photographer for Life magazine and a member of Magnum Photos where I also served as president. I coauthored Baby's First Year with Dr. Benjamin Spock, authored The World Is Young, and currently own and maintain a redwood forest in Northern California.

Wayne F. Miller

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