Trailblazers: Griffith J. Davis and Langston Hughes

Self-portrait of Griffith J. Davis, left, and Langston Hughes, 1947, in Atlanta holding an Ebony magazine/via FMoPA

A new exhibition by the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts will highlight 62 never-before-seen photographis and material that reflects the decades-long friendship between Griffith J. Davis, photographer, journalist and senior U.S. foreign affairs officer, and renowed poet Langston Huges.

Griff Davis and Langston Hughes, Letters and Photographs 1947 – 1967: A Global Friendship opens at the downtown Tampa museum on Jan. 17. The exhibition is produced by daughter Dorothy Davis of Griffith J. Davis Photographs and Archives and curated by FMoPA.

“We are proud to have this exhibition on two important figures in American history,” said FMoPA Executive Director Zora Carrier, Ph.D. “Both Langston Hughes and Griffith Davis were trailblazers in the civil rights movement and the independence movement of Africa.”

The extraordinary photographs in the exhibition, which runs through April 19, includes an exchange of letters between Mr. Davis and Mr. Hughes. The decades of personal correspondence include Mr. Davis’ first job as the first roving editor at Ebony magazine and his 35-year career as a pioneer U.S. Foreign Service Officer starting in Liberia in 1952.

The friendship between Mr. Davis and Mr. Hughes lasted from the moment Mr. Davis stepped into Mr. Hughes’ classroom as a student attending Atlanta University classes until Mr. Hughes death in 1967.

Mr. Davis’ iconic photograph of the first meeting of Vice President Richard Nixon and Martin Luther King Jr. and their wives on Independence Day in Accra, Ghana, on March 7, 1957 will be on the digital screen outside of FMoPA from Jan. 17 through Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 20. Mr. Davis was a boyhood friend and Morehouse College schoolmate of Dr. King.

Sponsors of the exhibition include Dorothy M. Davis Consulting, Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture and the Arts (TBBCA) and My Favorite Art Place. Contributors include: Atlanta University Photographs, Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library; David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University; and Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University; The Langston Hughes Society; and Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, Your Real Stories and St. Petersburg International Folk Fair Society, Inc.

The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, located at 400 N Ashley Dr. Cube 200, is dedicated to exhibiting important photographic art as central to contemporary life and culture. FMoPA is one of fewer than 10 museums in the United States dedicated exclusively to photography and one of two such museums in Florida.

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