Louis Draper (1935–2002) was a twentieth-century photographer and educator from Richmond, Virginia. During his photography career from the 1950s to 1990s, he photographed the streets of New York and Harlem with a discerning eye for observing mid-century city life and the social conditions of the time. Draper was a founding member of Kamoinge, the first black photographers’ collective, in 1963.
Draper was recognized in numerous solo exhibitions, appeared in notable publications such as The New York Times and Lens Blog, and was celebrated with multiple honors and awards, including an annual scholarship in his memory awarded at Mercer County Community College. Among the notable contemporaries he photographed were Langston Hughes, Hughie Lee Smith, Miles Davis, Malcolm X, Katherine Dunham, and civil rights activist, Fannie Lou Hamer.
Photo by Teresa Simas, 1992