Vintage Photographs and Brief History
Today represents a look back in time in order to gain a sense of the bare practices of African-American men from available images. The above image depicts our subject alone leaning against a tree. Judging from his hair style, this was probably around the middle to late 1960’s timeframe.
Again based solely on the hairstyle, the image directly above is just a little earlier than the first one. Perhaps the late 1950’s to early 1960’s.
Freedom and the Access to Cameras:
The official demise of slavery upon the end of the US civil war (1860’s) introduced the policy of segregation (separation of the races – aparthied ) throughout the USA. The adoption of “Jim Crow laws” (second class citizenship) ensured an even greater divide between the African-American, Caucasian and Indigenous (Native-American) people. This practice prevailed until Dr. King’s era and the civil rights movement gained acceptance during the late 1950’s to the assassinations of Malcolm X in the 1960’s and Dr. King in 1968.
This reality fueled the popular myth (untruth) of African-American disinterest in and indifference to the growing emergence of the naturist/nudist community within the Caucasian culture. The three racial groups were denied social interaction and restricted to totally different locations. Therefore, their naked/nudist attractions and practices were nonexistent (invisible) to one another. This lack of contact and common occurrence perpetuates this myth even today. Unfortunately, it is common in all the racial cultures.
Once again, relying only on hair characteristics, the communal shower picture above could be middle to late 1940’s or early 1950’s. Segregation remained in practice in almost the entire country.
The communal shower scene and the participants are the match for the previous image. The timeframe will be identical.
Racial and social inaccessibility are the major factors for the prevalence of this fiction within the body freedom and clothes freedom communities. Economics and “Jim Crow legalities” are strong secondary reasons for the continuance of these false delusions. The widespread oppression of the Black communities in this country and the practice of assigning to them the status of second-class – or lower/worse – citizenship ensured their economic depravity and financial insecurity. The growing fascination with the “camera” phenomenon and the obsession with the cult of photography made these novel “toys” financially inaccessible to the overwhelming majority of African-Americans. Segregation was so ingrained in society that photographers of one race couldn’t justify taking pictures of people of a different racial classification.
Twentieth Century, the Great War, the Modern Era :
The arrival of the 20th Century witnessed an extraordinary and remarkable first on the American social scene. Following generations of subjugation, Blacks were abandoning rural isolation and intimidation – and worst – and migrating to the rapidly growing industrial cities of northern and western USA and beginning to earn money! Not necessarily large fortunes but enough to support themselves and to send some to less fortunate extended family members. The Great War (1914 – 1918) saw African-Americans enter the armed forces in record numbers and see action and meet people in western Europe. New societies, new practices, less restrictive! The 1920’s brought the USA into a period of prosperity and popular culture introduced a large number of Caucasian Americans (and their incomes) to the uniqueness and the pleasures of Black life and living.
Segregation remained, enforceable and legal, but the new decade’s outlook brought a relaxation of some restrictions and African-Americans entered an age of some limited accomplishment and cautious respect. Black homosexuality (same gender loving) earned some lukewarm acceptance and segregated color-oriented body and clothes freedom facilities began to appear and to prosper.
Gradual development of a Black-oriented financial infrastructure followed. Soon, items that were formerly considered unattainable luxuries became common and affordable. Cameras, photography and other modern conveniences began to evolve from dreams into reality. The twentieth century finally discovered Black America!
The 1920’s progress in financial resources and social gains was halted by the Great Depression that reached this country’s shores in the early 1930’s. The stoppage, though devastating, was only temporary as the election of Franklin Roosevelt as president, his wife, Eleanor, as first-lady and the New Deal as political fuel eventually brought the depression mindset to an end. The delayed entry of this country into World War II with the attack on Pearl Harbor rapidly converted the nation into an industrialized super-power.
The vintage picture posted above leaves us with no question: they’re early bare practitioners! Arm-in-arm, they prepare to exchange a kiss. Their hairstyles are from the late 1940’s to early 1950’s.
World War II ended in 1945 and an unsettling peace encompassed the globe. The “Cold War” era between the communist countries and the western allies was about to erupt. The economy continued to grow although no longer on a wartime frenzy. Segregation and the Jim Crow laws still managed to hinder and prevent equality. However, the need for a change was an attitude that fast covered the land.
A few years following the surrender of Italy, Germany and Japan – in 1947 – President Harry Truman signed a presidential executive order that ended the official policy of segregation throughout the U.S. air force, military and navy only. Enlisting (joining) the armed forces no longer guaranteed a single-race encounter. At least in theory, discrimination was now banned in all combat services. One positive “big step” forward on the journey towards equal rights.
In military life, discipline is the “rule of the day.” No argument, no discussion, no voting. If ordered to do something, it simply must be done. Truman’s executive order didn’t erase all military overnight, but it did represent a new direction in official policies and procedures.
The couple published above hair dates from the middle 1950’s. Their open arms and legs indicate comfort with being photographed bare together publicly.
Soon, another historical change rose on the horizon. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the segregation inspired Jim Crow law of mandating “separate-but-equal” public school (education) systems throughout the country unconstitutional. The only legal quality this law contained was “separate.” The best, newest equipment and facilities were assigned to Caucasian students. The older, used and dilapidated (poorer quality) equipment was assigned to the African-American or Indigenous (native) American students or to Hispanic students. Separate? Yes! Equal? Unlikely!
This landmark judicial decision led to integration (coming together or mixing together) replacing segregation as the standard quality of the U.S. public school systems. The court ruling didn’t automatically end segregation overnight but it did lead towards a more accountable and equitable type of public school that continues to be sought today.
Following the Brown vs. Board of Education verdict by the Supreme Court, the civil (equal) rights movement gained momentum with the arrival “on the scene” (forefront) of Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Their leadership strategy was nonviolence (first and foremost) and involvement (engagement). This tactic quickly brought both national and international attention to the equality protest movement and highlighted the inequality and unfairness of life in the USA (the supposed symbol of freedom).
The growth of Black financial resources and services now gave the community to now have absolute proof (documentation) of existence. Cameras and photography provided evidence that justifies the reality of bare practitioners (same gender loving and naked/nude) in the African-American world. We can all admire and salute the bravery and commitment to a freer life for all Americans. We are grateful for their dreams and their efforts!
The reluctant acceptance and welcome offered to bare practitioners of one racial heritage when visiting the traditional site of a different racial group has caused problems within the same gender loving and body and clothes freedom communities. Both sides of the conflict have received negative reactions from all sides of the spectrum. The resolution of these concerns remains an unsolved issue within the larger bare practitioner community.
As dedicated bare practitioners, my spouse, Aaron, and I know from our shared experience that we encounter both judgment and ridicule based on our sexual orientation, marital status and our racial category (interracial). Our clothes freedom preference is another source of discomfort for many outside our community. We understand that any difference we can create today offers hope for a better tomorrow for us all!
Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride
Author’s Note: The next post entry here is planned for Monday, February 21, 2022, and the proposed topic is: “S’Naked Virgin!”