HBCUs throughout the country have served as epicenters of Black excellence and Getty Images is leading a project to ensure the rich legacies of these cultural pillars are preserved for generations to come. The visual media company recently announced the grant recipients of its historic photo digitization project.
The initiative—dubbed the Getty Images Photo Archive Grant for Historically Black Colleges and Universities—was created to digitally conserve imagery that visually captures the stories behind the nation’s HBCUs. As part of the project—which was unveiled in 2021—$500,000 will be donated to historically Black institutions to digitize 200,000 archival photos with the support of archivists from HBCUs and Adnet Global; a company that specializes in CGI and imagery restoration. The collaborative initiative is being led by Getty Images, the Getty Family and Stand Together; an organization that has a mission rooted in addressing inequities within education, health care, the criminal justice system, economic mobility and politics.
Amongst the HBCUs that have received grants are Prairie View A&M University, Jackson State University, Claflin University and North Carolina Central University. Historic photos from these institutions will live in Getty’s “Historically Black Colleges & Universities Collection” where 50 percent of the proceeds will go to the grant recipients, 30 percent will go towards the creation of scholarship funds for HBCU students and 20 percent will help fund the photo digitization initiative for years to come.
“The Getty Images Photo Archive Grants for HBCUs were created to honor the vast history of HBCUs and their contribution to American history,” Cassandra Illidge, VP of Partnerships at Getty Images, said in a statement. “We are committed to preserving the visual narrative of all cultures and communities to ensure these vital artifacts are accessible to storytellers around the world.” Thomas K. Hudson, J.D., who serves as President of Jackson State University, added “preserving the rich culture and heritage of the African diaspora found at HBCUs is an essential step in ensuring that the stories of our ancestors are accessible to share for generations to come.”
Over the past few years, several projects centered on the preservation of HBCUs have been launched. In 2020, the National Park Service announced $7.7 million in grants will go towards the restoration and conservation of historical structures at HBCUs.