Cushing: Black World War II shipyard workers and baseball

From Lincoln Cushing at Kaiser Permanente on February 20, 2015:

Some pictures may tell a thousand words, but others are mute until prompted to their stories.

Recently I’ve had the pleasure of working with a remarkable collection of vintage photographs taken by Emmanuel Francis Joseph. Born on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, E.F. Joseph was among the first professional African American photographers in the San Francisco Bay Area. He documented personal and public events, mostly within the local black community, from 1930 until his death in 1979.

His life’s work almost went to the recycler, but social services organizer and family friend Careth Reid stepped in and saved it. Since 1980 she has been the caretaker of the approximately 10,000 large-format film negatives which will eventually go to the Special Collections Library at San Francisco State University for full processing and cataloging. (Reid earned her master’s degree in social science from SFSU in 1970.)

The World War II Kaiser shipyards in Richmond, Calif., were the crucible for shaping what today we know as Kaiser Permanente, and during the war Joseph worked in the shipyards as a photographer for the Office of War Information. Many of the best known photos of black employees in those yards were taken by Joseph, including iconic black women welders and launchings of ships named for famous African Americans.

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Originally published: February 20, 2015. Last Updated: February 20, 2015.