Silver gelatin photograph of students at Cole School showing an integrated classroom with black and white children together. Hugo Weitz: Fruitvale, California, . Inscription on verso reads "Carl Bersch 1911." 7.5 x 4.5 in.
A charming group school portrait of children in front of a large American flag marked "1910" and held up by a sash that reads "Cole School." A young boy seated in the front row holds a pennant also emblazoned with the school name, "Cole." Remarkably, despite the image being captured fourteen years after Plessy v. Ferguson and during the height of the Jim Crow era, two black students are included in the otherwise white class. In the back row, a black boy wearing a sailor-style suit laughs and appears to be joking with his white classmate. On the far end of the second row, a black girl has been given the task of holding the flag of California. The room must have been jovial as many of the children, including our young flag bearer, are laughing or barely suppressing a smile.
Hugo Weitz was a partner in Weitz & Dijeau and other listed studios in San Francisco between 1885 and 1898. He apparently moved his operations to the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland in the early 20th century. Several other school group photographs by Weitz are known, with many from the first half of the 1910s held in the Oakland Museum of California. Though no other known examples depict an integrated classroom.
Minor chip to lower right corner.
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